As Inflation Continues To Take Its Toll, Egg Smuggling Is On The Rise

Inflation has taken a toll on nearly every aspect of our lives over the past year. The impact on our most vital commodity — food — has been particularly painful. You've probably noticed this in multiple aisles of the grocery store, especially when you get to the eggs. The Consumer Price Index reveals that egg prices rose 60% from December 2021 to December 2022. That is significantly more than any other food or beverage category listed on the index. Translating that into dollar values, USA Today reports that the average price for a carton of a dozen large Grade A eggs was $1.93 at the beginning of 2022. By the end of the year, that price had risen to $4.25.

There are two major factors driving egg prices upward. The first is a deadly outbreak of highly contagious bird flu that has swept the country. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 58 million birds have contracted the disease as of January 2023. Per CBS, this is the deadliest outbreak of avian flu in United States history, and yet, the demand for eggs is on the rise. An increasing number of Americans are turning to eggs as their main protein source and reducing their consumption of meat. The tremendous imbalance of supply and demand is burning through our pockets, and while there are signs that egg prices could drop this year, some people are still taking desperate measures.

Egg seizures at the southern border are up 108%

While eggs in the U.S. have grown more and more expensive, they have remained temptingly cheap south of the border. Border Report explains that a carton of 30 eggs costs just $3.40 on average in Mexico, which has led an increasing number of Americans to attempt smuggling eggs across the border. The USDA forbids travelers from bringing raw eggs in from other countries due to the risk of them carrying bird flu, or another deadly avian illness called Newcastle disease.

Border Report spoke to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Supervisory Agriculture Specialist Charles Payne, who revealed that seizures of illegal eggs rose 108% between October 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Those caught smuggling eggs into the country face fines of up to $10,000. However, Payne says that the maximum only applies to large-scale commercial shipments. Individuals carrying a smaller quantity of eggs would face fines of around $300. These fines can be avoided if you declare your shipment at the border, but even then, CBP will confiscate the eggs and destroy them.