WASHINGTON — In December of 2022, the price of a dozen eggs reportedly hit $4.25. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that as of January 6, 2023, 58 million birds had caught the nation’s deadliest avian flu epidemic. Due to the disease, there is now a shortage of eggs, which has led to increased pricing. But how is this “eggflation” impacting food prices overall?
According to the USDA, the average annual egg consumption per person in the United States is 278. The current increase in egg prices results from increased demand and a diminished supply brought about by the avian influenza pandemic.
In addition to being a frequent source of protein, eggs are a common ingredient in several products, including pasta, puddings, and many more. The Economics Daily reports that domestic food costs increased by 13.5% from the year ending August 2022, while external food costs rose by 80%. Egg prices increased by 60% last year, and overall grocery prices increased by 12% in 2022. Restaurant tabs went up 8% as well.
The question is whether the high cost of eggs has likely impacted the overall food pricing. Although wholesale prices have started to decline from record highs, grocery store prices haven’t yet started to follow.
The How Much Question
In answering this question Joel Ho, a financial model expert and founder of Inflation Training, differentiates between inflation and rises in relative prices. According to Ho, it’s undoubtedly clear that eggs contributed to inflation because they are additives – but the question is, how much? Making an analogy, Ho states that from a top-line perspective, the US spent $2.12T on food in 2021, while the egg industry was estimated at $10B this year.
In his opinion, the difference between these figures is not really material. “The egg industry would have to be 1000%-2000% bigger to start impacting food inflation by percentage point moves; 60% doesn’t cut it,” Ho says. To put things another way, HO illustrates further that if we put products into three baskets – some use no eggs.
There are also lots of products that use some eggs and, finally, those that use significant quantities of eggs. This category includes many baked goods and foods. Ho categorizes non-egg products as being more significantly affected by general inflation than by eggs in any meaningful way.
Eggs are also not likely to be meaningful input costs for products that use some eggs. For these products, Ho explains, the price of eggs can rise by 60%, for example, but if only 10% of the product by cost is egg and the rest is flour, one can only get a 6% rise in the product due to the egg.
On the other hand, Ho categorizes products that use a lot of eggs as being severely impacted by egg increases. However, Ho notes, long-term contracts are likely to have delayed the full impact of cost increases, and egg substitutes are likely to be used if possible.
So of the three baskets of goods outlined, only the products using large numbers of eggs are truly affected by egg inflation that could contribute meaningfully to inflation for those specific products. And they are not all that many in relation to the total number of foods. Ho concludes that egg inflation is unlikely to contribute meaningfully to overall food costs.
Ho’s response suggests that food inflation is affected by a number of factors, including weather, transportation costs, supply chain disruptions, and changes in consumer demand. High energy costs brought on by the Ukraine conflict have been a main driver of inflation.
This impact may be twofold; high energy costs increase the cost of all foods directly, and high energy costs also increase the cost of eggs, which impacts the price of the foods that use eggs.
Exploring Egg Alternatives
Cost-minded Consumers can choose to find alternatives to eggs to avoid the high cost or to make their eggs last longer. Either way, consumers must find creative ways to cope with the soaring cost of eggs.
Erin Palinsk i, nutrition and diabetes expert, says that to find the best replacement, you need to know what the egg adds to the recipe in terms of structure, flavor, texture, and other things. She offers the following choices.
Tofu is a great egg substitute since it restores the recipe’s protein content, which is sometimes diminished when eggs are omitted. If you want to use tofu in place of eggs, choose silken tofu because it blends more smoothly.
The tofu should be processed in a high-powered blender or food processor until it is smooth and creamy before being added to a dish. Smooth tofu can replace one whole egg; just use a quarter cup.
Because you can whip it into stiff peaks like beaten egg whites, aquafaba can stand in for both eggs and egg whites. To use aquafaba in place of eggs, combine three tablespoons of aquafaba with a quarter of a teaspoon of cream of tartar for every egg the recipe needs.
Aquafaba is ideal for use in recipes calling for a fluffy, light texture, such as meringue, angel food cake, and macaroons.
Just combine one tablespoon of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water to use chia seeds in place of eggs. Finally, allow the mixture to remain for about 4 minutes until a chia egg-a gel-like substance-is formed. It serves as a vegan egg substitute in your recipe. Chia seeds do not require grinding before combining with water.
Pulverized flax seed can be an egg substitute for texture. Combine 2.5 Tbsp water with 1 Tbsp flax and let settle for 4 minutes before using. This egg alternative gives cakes, muffins, and cupcakes a light texture.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.
Wealth of Geeks
via Associated Press