Now We Have To Worry About Egg Smuggling During The Egg Crisis

Egg prices are skyrocketing even as chicken gets cheaper. They increased by 49.1% in November, largely because of a bird flu outbreak, according to CNBC. About 57.8 million birds have been impacted, per information from the Department of Agriculture. Before the avian flu swept through farms, the disease was considered fairly uncommon in the United States. The last time the country recorded an outbreak was in 2015, but this latest surge has wiped out even more birds. Bird flu spreads rapidly through direct and indirect contact, per the United States Department of Agriculture. It can be transferred via eggs, crates, and other equipment.

All Grass Farms owner Cliff McConville told WTTW News that the problem is worsened by the amount of time it takes to produce new eggs, explaining, "It takes about 20 weeks to raise a chicken old enough to start laying eggs." If a flock of birds that was on its way to laying eggs gets wiped out by the disease, another 20 weeks might have to pass before new chickens are in a position to lay them. That means "there's not a ready supply of replacement pullets," according to McConville. The USDA indicated that egg production has dropped from 9.7 billion in December 2021 to 8.9 billion in November 2022. This is contributing majorly to soaring egg prices.

Finding affordable eggs in stores has become quite a quest. Now, people are trying to smuggle eggs past Customs and Border Patrol, per Food & Wine.

Egg smugglers face stiff penalties

A carton of 12 large Grade A eggs costs more than double what it did about a year ago, partly because Bird Flu has caused a huge reduction in birds, reports USA Today. Noticing more affordable prices for eggs in Mexico, some people are attempting to bring eggs over the United States border, according to Food & Wine. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded a 108% increase in the number of eggs they confiscated at ports of entry between Oct. 2022 and the end of the year.

A significant number of these cases involve the transport of eggs across the border from Mexico, where, in some cities, you can get 30 eggs for about $3.40. But this activity is strictly forbidden by law. Raw eggs and live poultry such as chickens and turkeys are not allowed to be carried into the country from abroad because they can bring pests and diseases along with them, per CBS News. This has been the case since 2012. Cooked eggs, on the other hand, are permitted.

People who smuggle raw eggs into the country face stiff punishments. Those who fail to declare them may be charged anywhere from $300 to $10,000. Citing a statement from Border Protection spokesperson Gerrelaine Alcordo, NPR reported that most people don't even know they're breaking a law and admit to having the banned item. Those who do declare the eggs won't face fines, but the eggs will be taken and incinerated.