Egg Prices Nearly Double Amid Bird Flu Outbreak

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Eggs in plastic cartons are displayed at a store in Tokyo on Monday.

The average wholesale price for a kilogram of medium-size eggs stood at ¥269 as of Monday, up 80% from last January, according to the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations. Egg prices have remained high this month due to a recent outbreak of avian influenza among poultry farms nationwide.

The spread of bird flu has forced poultry farmers to cull a record number of egg-laying hens, leaving a reduced supply that is also more expensive to produce because of rising feed prices.

The Tokyo area saw the average wholesale price for eggs hit ¥275 Monday, the highest ever level for January. Although average prices have fallen from last December, when they temporarily hit ¥300 on the back of soaring feed prices and recovering demand from the restaurant industry, they are still more than ¥126 higher than averages for January in the past five years. Wholesale prices in Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka averaged even higher on Monday, at ¥280 per kilogram.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Bird flu has led to 11.2 million hens being culled in 23 prefectures in fiscal 2022 as of Monday, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry. Of these, 10.09 million were egg-laying hens, equivalent to 7% of the total number of hens raised in Japan. The agricultural ministry issued a letter on Jan.10 to the Japan Poultry Association and the Nihon RangyoKyokai Association, requesting efforts be made to stabilize egg production and that the supply for households be prioritized.

Agricultural minister Tetsuro Nomura stated Friday at a press conference that “the price of eggs is likely to remain higher than expected for some time.”

Eggs have had relatively stable prices compared to other commodities, but now there is a growing consensus that higher prices could stick around.