Avian influenza may be affecting Destin egg supply and prices

Janie Harris
Fresh Market’s cage free eggs’ prices fall within the same range as other stores’ regular eggs because of the shortage.

Since its arrival in the U.S. in December, Avian flu severely minimized our nation’s turkey and laying hen population. Because of this, the United States Department of Agriculture, or U.S.D.A., reports egg production will be down about 4 percent from last year, according to an article by the New York Times.

But what does this mean for locals?

Because of the shortage, many grocery stores in the country are limiting the number of eggs you can buy or are raising the price of the eggs to prevent their stock from depleting too rapidly. In Destin, only the prices have seen a change.

“You always want to keep them [eggs] in stock,” said Hirstina Peeva, a manager of at Target in Destin.

Peeva told The Log the Destin location has not seen a rise in price so far, but it is still a possibility. Still, as of June 18, Target, while having a small supply on their shelves due to the increased tourism in the area, sold their eggs for the cheapest price in Destin at $2.29 per dozen.

Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager for Publix, explained that certain items may be discontinued in order to keep prices down. For example, the bakery in Publix hasn’t received enough eggs to keep up with the production of some of the cakes, so certain cakes may not be available for purchase.

“Publix is closely monitoring the situation. We're working with suppliers to build an adequate supply of ingredients,” said Stevens.

The U.S.D.A. noted that there may be a lag between wholesale prices and retail prices, so retailers may be waiting to pass on the extra cost to consumers. Wal-Mart said it is trying to use its size and scale to minimize the impact of this shortage on their customers’ wallets.

“We are getting our supply. Prices are going up everywhere, but we are getting our supply,” said Tremella Mills, assistant manager of the Wal-Mart in Destin.

Fresh Market has not seen any change in price or supply.

“We have no problem getting them in,” said Grocery Manager Paul Quick.

Quick said he believes that the shortage hasn’t affected them yet because all of their eggs are organic or cage free, and these cage-free eggs are now falling within the same price range as sold in other grocery stores in the area.

As for local Winn Dixie stores, spokeswoman Dell Barber said “The current unfortunate situation in U.S. egg production is putting pressure on supply, which is leading to pressure on egg prices. Our position is to remain competitive in all markets we serve to ensure we provide our customers with the best possible value."

While the egg supply may see some reductions around the country, the effects are not significantly impacting local shoppers, yet. Consumers may see prices rise and supplies diminish as the year progresses. 

Prices for a dozen eggs varied around the city, but as of June 18, each stores cheapest eggs were priced at:

Target: $2.29

Winn Dixie: $3.09

Wal-mart: $3.17

Publix: $3.27

Fresh Market: $3.29