The price of eggs has risen sharply recently, prompting Russian authorities to intervene to bring the market back under control. Prices started climbing back in the fall and in December shops throughout the country were left with empty shelves amid panic buying and soaring demand. After simmering for weeks, the problem reached boiling point in mid-December with President Vladimir Putin even apologizing for the high prices during his grand end-of-year press conference.
- Average egg prices across the country have risen by 40% over the 12 months to Nov. 2023, according to official statistics. The biggest increase was recorded in occupied Crimea (+74%). In the Far East, 10 eggs cost the equivalent of $1.65, while a pack goes for an average of $2.31 in the central Urals region. Some regions (here, here) have even started selling eggs individually given the surge in prices, while in others, shops selling cheap eggs have seen huge lines form.
- There are several reasons behind the surge in egg prices, said Andrei Sizov, a leading Russian expert in the agriculture market. The first factor is seasonal — eggs are always more expensive at this time of year as demand increases and supply from small producers declines (feed costs are higher and more electricity is required). Second, as a cheap source of protein, eggs are in greater demand due to rising prices for poultry. Other reasons include factory closures due to bird flu and the weak ruble, which means the cost of veterinary drugs costs more.
- To halt the price surge, the Russian authorities canceled duties on imported eggs, which previously ran at 15%. Now, eggs from Turkey and Azerbaijan should become more readily available on the Russian market.
- Putin was even moved to apologize for high egg prices during his end-of-year press conference and Russia’s federal antimonopoly service immediately opened cases against four businesses suspected of working as an egg-price cartel. If found guilty they will face fines.
Why the world should care:
Ahead of the March 2024 presidential election, which Putin is expected to win easily, the authorities are again trying to control the prices of socially important products. Previously, the government intervened to halt rising prices for chicken and gasoline. This is now the third localized price crisis in a short space of time, and one that could spread to other markets and products at any moment.