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$18 a dozen: How did eggs get absurdly expensive?

The egg carton has become the symbol of inflation. By the end of 2022, prices had shot up 60% year-over-year putting a strain on holiday budgeting for households across the country.Some Americans got creative with their sourcing. Attempts to smuggle eggs across the US-Mexico border have surged, US border patrol says, with the agency reporting that the number of egg and poultry seizures rose 108% from 1 October to 31 December. Shoppers are also seeking out local farms, which can be cheaper. Egg farmers on TikTok have poked fun at this boon, calling themselves “egg dealers”, weighing their produce as if it were a kilo of drugs.On Tuesday on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in America, prices remained steep. At Eli’s Market, a gourmet grocery store, a dozen organic eggs cost between $12.99 and $17.99. “Really?!” said one shopper after learning the price. “That’s nuts.” A store manager declined to comment.A few blocks away, prices were lower, but still well above what customers are used to. Maria Tripodis, a home chef, perused cartons of one dozen eggs that ranged from $7.49 to $9.99. “These are nice eggs, but they’re a lot more expensive than usual,” she said.There are signs that things might be turning around. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service promises an end is in sight: as of 20 January, loose egg prices have declined by 52% from their high the week of 18 December. But in the stores that I visited …

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