Walmart's $2 Eggs Spark Concerns, Questions

A social media post on Wednesday that shows eggs being sold for $2 a carton at a Walmart in Kentucky caused a large online response from people discussing the recent spike in egg prices across the country.

WLEX, a local NBC-affiliated television station in Lexington, shared a photo of the egg display on its official Facebook page. The station identified the display as being at a Walmart in Harrodsburg in central Kentucky.

The price of eggs has spiked in recent months and reached a record high in December, when the average cost for a dozen large Grade A eggs in U.S. cities hit $4.25, up $1.79 from a year earlier, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The cause of the escalated price has been cited as inflation and what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics show is the largest avian influenza outbreak in history. The USDA recorded 57.83 million bird deaths from the start of 2022 to January 11 of this year, which surpassed the previous record of 50.5 million bird deaths in 2015.

Newsweek spoke with an employee at the Harrodsburg store who confirmed the location had 18-egg cartons available for $2.

A spokesperson from Walmart also provided Newsweek with a statement about the eggs at the store.

"We're committed to providing the best prices so our customers can save money and live better," the statement read. "What happened involving the shipment of eggs to the Harrodsburg store demonstrates our ability to take advantage of these unique opportunities and quickly pass on those savings."

Farm Action President Joe Maxwell told Newsweek that judging by the listed price, the Walmart in Harrodsburg is "selling the eggs at below the wholesale price reported by the USDA."

Farm Action, a research and advocacy group that works to impact the food and agriculture system, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in January to express concerns over possible price gouging by some of the country's leading corporate producers of eggs.

"I'm sure that this particular retailer has get consumers in the store," Maxwell said.

Maxwell said the discount is likely making other stores feel some pressure.

"If you're a retailer in that town, you're probably saying, 'We're going to have to drop our price at some point, or otherwise Walmart's going to own all the egg shoppers,'" he said.

On the WLEX Facebook post about the $2 eggs, one comment said, "If they can do this, there is no reason for any of them to be that high."

"Better check the expiration date," wrote another commenter.

"I was at Walmart yesterday. Yes, the eggs prices are starting to come down," another said.

"Does it include the eggs? Or is it just the cardboard?" one user joked.

One person in the thread said she was an employee at the Harrodsburg store, which is also listed in her Facebook bio. She said the eggs were not expired and all had fresh dates on the packaging.

Egg shopper and Walmart sign
The main image shows a stock image of a person in a store holding a carton of eggs. The smaller picture shows a cart outside a Walmart store on January 24, 2023, in Miami, Florida. A Walmart in Kentucky has drawn national attention for advertising eggs on sale for $2 amid a price surge on the product. Photos by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

When Will Egg Prices Go Down?

Wholesale egg prices have already dropped, according to data from Urner Barry, a market research firm that specializes in the wholesale food industry.

Urner Barry reported last week that wholesale prices for a dozen eggs had fallen to $2.61 by February 6. That marks a 52 percent decrease from December's prices and a 47 percent drop since the beginning of 2023, according to CNBC.

Part of the reason why prices are easing can be attributed to the bird-flu outbreak subsiding. According to the USDA, there hasn't been any new outbreaks among commercial table-egg-laying birds since December 20, which has allowed suppliers to recover.

"We should see them [retailers] using up the inventory of the high-price eggs, and we should see a drop in retail prices unless they're going to continue to gouge the consumer," Maxwell said.