High egg prices are driving consumers to search for potential egg replacements—including plant-based alternatives.
- The price of eggs has nearly tripled since the pandemic, driven by inflationary prices and shortages caused by an avian flu outbreak.
- Eggs are traditionally a cheap, reliable source of protein. Their recent inaccessibility poses a problem for consumers.
- Consumers are turning to egg replacements and alternatives, including freeze-dried eggs and plant-based alternatives.
- Plant-based egg replacements are traditionally more expensive than eggs, but the price surge has changed that.
Why it’s news
Large, grade-A eggs cost $4.25 a dozen in December—a 138% increase from $1.79 a year earlier, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Eggs are one of Americans’ favorite protein sources. The average American eats nearly 280 eggs per year, NPR reports. That doesn’t mean Americans eat omelets daily—eggs are essential ingredients in baked goods and other food items consumers frequently eat.
Unlike other rising prices, egg prices aren’t just influenced by inflation. One of the deadliest-ever outbreaks of avian flu occurred last year. The virus is so infectious that an entire egg factory can be closed if one chicken becomes infected. Around 52.7 million chickens were euthanized last year due to the virus, NPR reports.
While egg production will likely ramp up in the next couple of years, replacing the chicken population will take time. In the meantime, egg alternatives can be a solution for consumers looking to keep eggs in their diet without overspending.
At the end of last year, eggs had an average unit price of $5.24, while plant-based alternatives averaged $4.42. As prices rose, the sales of eggs declined while alternative options increased.
One egg-replacement producer, Eat Just, uses mung beans in its recipe for an egg alternative. The beans produce a liquid mixture that consumers can use instead of traditional eggs. Eat Just is leaning in to the temporary boost from egg shortages and running ads that say, “Plants don’t get the flu.” The company also claims that its product is cholesterol free and better for the environment.