Poultry Prices Rise As Bird Flu Spreads to 24 States

by Amy Myers
(Photo by John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Poultry is a staple grocery item that you can find in just about every meat-eating American’s freezer, but we may be looking for alternative entrees as prices continue to rise. Because of another bird flu breakout, millions of birds have had to be depopulated and millions more are at risk.

More than 24 U.S. states have had to increase their poultry prices because of the avian epidemic, but six states, in particular, are taking the hardest hit: Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa. Minnesota, alone, has lost 600,000 chickens and turkeys from the illness already in 2022. According to the Executive Director of the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, Dr. Beth Thompson, if one bird contracts the illness, the farmer must euthanize the entire group.

Pete Klaphake is one of Minnesota’s many poultry farmers that has kept a wary eye on his flock of turkeys. His company produces 30 million pounds of poultry a year. This helps make up for a portion of the 100 pounds that the average American consumes a year. So, when a virus isn’t threatening his livestock, business is good. But now, with how easily the bird flu spreads from one farm to another, Klaphake worries that he may be next to add to the rising poultry prices.

“We are the number one turkey-producing state in the U.S.,” Klaphake explained to Fox News. “If we do have a positive, which we could very easily be the next one, we don’t know how to deal with it.”

Should one of the farmer’s turkeys contract the illness, it could very well end his career altogether.

“It would put a company like ours out of business very fast,” he added.

Poultry Adds to the List of More Expensive Groceries in 2022

The bird flu concerns come as inflation continues to increase other essential grocery prices, such as beef, produce, dairy products and many others. In fact, even Easter items have joined the list of expensive essentials, according to this survey. Easter Sunday-favorite ingredients like milk, sugar and cocoa are becoming more and more expensive, as have food storage items like aluminum foil.

Likewise, Easter baskets have a much larger price tag, increasing 22% since 2019, from around $50 to $61.83. And let’s not forget those classic non-poultry Cadbury Eggs, which have increased from $2.99 for a four-pack to $3.99 within the past two years. Peeps, jelly beans and Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, too, have all increased a full dollar from 2019.

This might not seem like too big of a concern, as candy and sweets are far from the most important elements of our diets (even though they may be our favorites). However, it does point to a trend of surges in staple grocery items around big holidays as we continue through 2022.