Anybody who has gone grocery shopping over the past year can attest to the fact that the price for a carton of fresh eggs has surged substantially, and that price could soon increase somewhat even more.
A massive fire at a major egg-producing chicken farm in Connecticut over the weekend is estimated to have killed as many as 100,000 hens, according to TheBlaze.
The loss of those hens will likely add pressure to an already overstressed industry that has been dealing with inflation-related production cost increases and outbreaks of avian flu that have negatively impacted the nation's supply of chickens and eggs.
According to local media outlet WFSB, the three-alarm fire at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah, Connecticut began around 1 pm Saturday afternoon and raged for around eight hours before dozens of firefighters from 21 separate departments were able to finally extinguish the inferno.
One massive chicken coop was entirely lost, and though other nearby buildings and coops were saved from burning, authorities estimate that around 100,000 hens were killed by the fire.
"Our team continues to work closely with the local fire departments and state officials to thoroughly investigate the fire that occurred on Saturday, January 28," Hillandale Farms said in a statement on Monday. "We can confirm that one chicken house was lost and that no other buildings were compromised. We are deeply grateful that no employees were hurt in the fire."
"Although it remains under investigation, we are working with local and state authorities to determine the cause," the farm's executive leadership team added. "We appreciate the tremendous response from local fire departments for their swift action and for the continued support from across our industry."
WFSB reported that Rebecca Murphy of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture said the department "will be working with Hillandale Farms to confirm the extent of damage," and noted that the department "commends the swift actions of both employees and the many first responder units to contain the fire at Hillandale Farms in Bozrah to a single structure, preventing any additional losses."
As for the anticipated impact on the price of eggs following this loss, Murphy suggested that it would likely be "minimal to none" given the big picture of how many egg-laying chickens there are across the country.
"According to a USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) report from Sept. 2022, there are more than 372 million egg-laying hens in the United States," she told the local outlet. "The anticipated potential impact on egg prices due to this incident is minimal to none at this time."
While the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's prediction of a "minimal to none" impact on egg prices following this devastating fire is reassuring, it is nonetheless understandable why that would be a significant concern for some Americans, particularly given the high prices already seen and known stressors on the industry more broadly.
According to Fox Business, the average price for a carton of a dozen large Grade A eggs has increased by approximately 137 percent from December 2021 to December 2022, due at least in part to increased production costs stemming from inflation more broadly.
That has been compounded by an ongoing outbreak of avian flu that has impacted at least 745 flocks in 47 states -- currently about 27 flocks in 17 states -- and resulted in the loss of an estimated 58.2 million chickens since October 2022, per the USDA, to say nothing of the impact of several significant fires at different poultry farms over the past few years that are estimated to have killed a few million more hens, according to TheBlaze.