Eggs are now more expensive than chicken in the US

The invisible hand of egg prices.
The invisible hand of egg prices.
Image: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty
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The avian flu epidemic ravaging US chicken farms has caused a reversal of protein economics. Their surging price has made eggs more expensive on a protein-per-dollar basis than chicken breasts for the first time on record.

Latest figures from the USDA show that at least 48 million US birds have been killed in attempts to contain the outbreak. More than 34 million of those—71%—were egg-laying chickens or chickens used to breed egg-laying chickens, which is why the price of chicken meat has not ascended as rapidly as chicken eggs. The exact number of chickens bred for meat that have been killed because of the outbreak is unclear, but they account for no more than 13% of the currently reported figures.

The prices we’re using are a nationwide urban average, which means it’s possible that eggs are still the cheaper protein option in some US neighborhoods. (And we’re using the price for chicken breast rather than the price per pound for a whole chicken, because that’s a way to focus on a comparable price for just edible protein in each item.)

A 60-gram boiled egg—aka “USDA Large”—has 7.55 grams of protein, and a 384-gram chicken breast has 107.67 grams of protein, according to the USDA. One shorthand way to calculate this is that if 7 lbs of chicken breast cost less than 10 dozen eggs in your store, the chicken is a better deal for protein.