Americans Smuggling Eggs from Mexico Amid Surging Prices, Border Officials Say
Would-be eggsporters can be forced to fork over a fine of up to $10,000 if they’re caught sneaking them back into the country.
Eggs have gotten so expensive in recent months that Americans are increasingly relying on a new way of getting them: smuggling them across the Mexican border.
Officials with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) say they’ve seen an uptick in the number of egg-running attempts.
“The San Diego Field Office has recently noticed an increase in the number of eggs intercepted at our ports of entry,” Jennifer De La O, CBP Director of Field Operations in San Diego, wrote on Twitter.
“As a reminder, uncooked eggs are prohibited entry from Mexico into the US,” she noted. “Failure to declare agriculture [sic] items can result in penalties of up to $10,000.”
The cost of food has become a major cause of concern in the US, where the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the average price of a dozen large eggs classified as Grade A by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a city reached $4.25 in December – an increase of 138% from the $1.79 consumers were typically paying a year earlier.
A recent Instacart survey found that consumers in six states are now paying over $6 per dozen of the cheapest eggs available.
The cause of the massive surge in price is hotly contested, but there are likely a number of factors at play.
Observers who’ve accused agricultural giants of price-gouging point to Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. the largest egg distributor in the US, which credited the “significantly higher selling prices” for its record quarterly profit of $198.6 million.
Others point to data from the US Department of Agriculture, which claimed U.S. that “egg inventories were 29 percent lower in the final week of December 2022 than at the beginning of the year” because of “recurrent outbreaks” of avian flu and a gap in production due to disinfection protocol.
There’s almost certainly more to the story, however. The surge in energy prices which accompanied the Western world’s anti-Russian sanctions crusade is likely to blame as well.
Emily Metz, president and CEO of trade group American Egg Board recently noted: “When you're looking at fuel costs go up, and you're looking at feed costs go up as much as 60%, labor costs, packaging costs — all of that... those are much much bigger factors than bird flu for sure.”