Egg prices are up for Easter and Passover because of bird flu and inflation. Here's how to save.

Kelly Tyko

The real Easter egg hunt this year might be finding affordable eggs. 

Inflation coupled with the bird flu is driving up the price of eggs ahead of Easter. Eggs are also a symbol for the Jewish holiday Passover, which begins at sundown Friday, and has a place on families' Seder plates.

Egg prices are higher than they were last year and in recent history, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Consumer Price Index, which measures the average change paid by consumers for goods and services, leaped 8.5% annually, the fastest pace since December 1981, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That's up from 7.9% in February and inflation now has notched new 40-year highs for five straight months.

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The CPI found eggs were 11.2% higher in March compared with March 2021. Many of the egg price increases have come in recent weeks.

The average price of eggs on Monday was $2.42, down from $2.55 on April 4 but up from 58 cents on April 12, 2021, according to market research firm Urner Barry.

Avian flu impact on egg, chicken prices

Egg prices are expected to continue to rise as more states are hit by an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza A.

As of Monday, H5N1 bird flu viruses have been detected in wild birds and commercial and backyard poultry in 26 states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Standard practice in the poultry industry is to destroy all infected and exposed birds to stop the spread of the virus, meaning there are far fewer egg-laying hens to meet the upcoming demand for holiday eggs.

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Why are egg prices so high?

Egg prices typically see a spike in late March to early April – depending on when Easter falls – as demand increases.

Often, the holiday is when retailers discount eggs. The latest USDA data shows signs of prices dropping in the last week.

“Consumer demand for shell eggs declined as shoppers are finding little incentive at the local grocer to buy beyond normal needs,” the USDA said in its Egg Markets Overview report from April 8. “Plastic eggs have been encroaching on shell egg demand during Easter for years but shell eggs have managed to hold their own for holiday baking needs.”

According to Numerator’s Easter 2022 Consumer Sentiment Study, 75% of consumers expect inflation to impact their shopping.

The National Retail Federation found inflation concerns were “driving consumers to seek the most value for their dollar when shopping for the Easter holiday.”

How to crack the high price of eggs

USA TODAY asked readers how they planned on saving on egg purchases. Here are some of their strategies along with expert advice.

Buy eggs in bulk at Costco, Sam’s Club

Many said they’d shop at wholesale clubs like Costco and buy eggs in bulk. Some said they’d shop more at bigger chains like Walmart or Target. 

Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert and editor at deal website RetailMeNot, also suggests shopping wholesale to save.

“For saving on real eggs to paint and decorate for Easter Sunday, scan local grocery stores' weekly coupon offerings for savings on eggs, or head to a warehouse store like Sam’s Club for bulk discounts on large quantities of eggs,” McGrath told USA TODAY.

USA TODAY visited stores in Coral Springs, Florida and found Costco had the lowest egg price with five dozen eggs for $8.39 and two dozen for $3.69. The second-lowest was Aldi at $1.90 a dozen.

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Buying eggs in bulk is a top way to beat rising egg prices.

Using plastic eggs for Easter

Many readers told USA TODAY they were turning more to plastic eggs for holiday celebrations.

One way to save for future holidays is to pick up Easter decor on holiday clearance, McGrath said.

"If you want to save the absolute most for next year, head to your big-box store, craft store or even grocery store of choice the day after Easter to get non-perishable plastic eggs and egg-decorating kits for upwards of 80% off," McGrath said. "You'll save yourself the last-minute shopping stress for Easter 2023 and get the absolutely lowest price possible."

No eggs this Easter

A few readers told USA TODAY that because of higher egg prices and other increased costs like gas, they are skipping real eggs this holiday. Others are turning to local farmers to buy eggs and some said they had backyard hens.

Contributing: Katie Wedell and Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group