Bird Flu Less Deadly In 2022 Than 2023

This year, a prolonged bird flu outbreak has killed nearly 5 million chickens, turkeys, and other animals in the United States. This fall is worrisome since the virus still spreads through customers’ droppings and nasal secretions. The virus is highly infectious and spreads rapidly among wild birds.

Cases of bird flu have been reported chiefly at farms in Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota, along a significant flyway for migrating birds as geese and ducks migrate south for the winter. However, this year, just a fraction of the total flock throughout the country has been afflicted; therefore, prices have returned to pre-outbreak levels.

After the first incidence of bird flu was detected in Indiana in February 2022, egg costs skyrocketed, reaching a national average of over $4.80 per dozen in January. This is twice the $1.90 per dozen charged a year earlier.

Turkey and chicken prices also surged over the previous two years, but bird flu wasn’t the only culprit, as feed, gasoline, and labor costs soared as part of the general inflation that dragged on the whole economy. Since January 2022, when the average price per pound of a whole chicken was $1.62, it has slowly increased to its current level of $1.93, up from $1.86 a year earlier in October.

Wholesale frozen turkey prices dropped from $1.79 per pound in October 2017 to $1.15 in October 2018, according to statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These prices have decreased from $1.35 in October 2016. Even if the virus infects more turkey farms, the present Christmas supply shouldn’t be compromised because many birds are already in cold storage.

The response to the outbreak has cost the government $757 million so far, with most of the cash going to compensate farmers who had to kill their flocks. Economists in the agricultural sector expect an additional $1 billion in losses due to decreased sales and other associated expenses.