Midcoast farmers held off as long as possible but are now following suit with large-scale producers and raising their egg prices.

While larger retail egg suppliers like Hillandale Farms in Turner blame avian flu, which has forced them to cull their flocks, as the reason behind price hikes, smaller farmers say fuel and feed costs are their culprit.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average price for a dozen large brown eggs in New England is $4.99 — an almost a 50% increase from last year.

Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham has sold eggs for $6 a dozen for over a decade but increased to $7 this past April. Owner Abbey Sadauckas said the price jump was a direct result of increased supply costs.

“The paper shortages during COVID only moderately eased in 2022, and so our cost for egg cartons went up from 16 cents to 28 cents each,” Sadauckas said. “Organic grain increased by roughly 15 cents a pound over the last year. Shavings have increased from $5.75 a bale in January 2020 to $6.50 a bale in December 2022.”

The costs add up for Apple Creek because they care for nearly 700 chickens in the winter and almost 1,400 in the spring. Apple Creek reuses egg cartons returned by 90-100 customers each week and collects extra wood shavings from local woodworkers to cut back on costs, Sadauckas said.


“I think as a small business what is challenging is that we don’t want to keep increasing prices over the course of the year and worry that doing so might erode the trust of our customers over time,” she said.

Two Coves Farm in Harpswell also increased its egg prices from $5 a dozen to $6 last year. Owner Joe Grady agreed with Sadauckas that the primary reason was feed and fuel costs.

As for the bird flu, Grady said it has created a domino effect because hatcheries don’t have the same supply of birds to sell to farmers as before.

“The flow of birds and the flow of eggs is sort of disrupted and now the markets are all struggling with demand,” he said.

Farmers slaughtered an estimated 43 million egg-laying chickens this year to help control bird flu, according to The Associated Press.

Grady said the price of eggs will continue to climb in stores, but he won’t raise his prices “just because he can.” While he acknowledged the bird flu had an influence on the egg industry, he hinted at price gouging.


“These corporations are still raking in major profits,” Grady said. “This is why local is so important. Your local farmer is going to have to look you in the face and take that cash out of your hand, so it’s just a different ball game.”

He said large producers have a leg up because most Maine farmers rely on natural sunlight, as opposed to larger operations that use artificial light to boost output. Grady said chickens need up to 14 hours of sunlight for optimum egg production, meaning chickens aren’t nearly as productive in long Maine winters.

Mike Robinson of RMT Farms in Litchfield has always promised customers the “lowest egg prices you can find” but decided a recent price increase was unavoidable. For eight years he has charged $3 a dozen and now charges $3.50 — still cheaper than average grocery store prices.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but we had to,” Robinson said. “As we are grain-free, we don’t have a grain bill, but do have a gas bill to get our food from our partnering food bank in Brunswick. We are hoping our regulars will continue to support us even with the higher prices.”

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