As egg prices in the U.S. have been increasing over the past year, it has been reported that more Americans are crossing the border into Mexico to purchase eggs at a lower cost, and attempting to smuggle them back along some areas of the southern border, such as California and Texas. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Roger Maier, who spoke to CBS MoneyWatch, there has been an uptick in individuals attempting to bring eggs from Juarez to El Paso as they are significantly cheaper in Mexico than the U.S. He also mentioned that this has been happening more frequently at other Southwest border locations as well.
Jennifer De La O, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection field operations director in San Diego, reported this week in a tweet that her office has been seeing an uptick in the number of eggs being intercepted at the ports. Failure to declare agricultural items while entering the U.S. can result in fines of up to $10,000, she added. According to federal law, travelers are prohibited from bringing certain agricultural products, including eggs, live chickens, and turkeys into the U.S. due to potential plant pests and foreign animal diseases. It is also mentioned that eggs from Mexico have been banned from entering the U.S. since 2012, according to the USDA and Cooked eggs are allowable under USDA guidelines.
The number of incidents in which raw eggs were confiscated at U.S. borders has seen a significant increase of over 100% during the last quarter of 2022 compared to the same period the previous year, as per Border Report, an online news platform that covers immigration-related issues. The price for a 30-count carton of eggs in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is $3.40, according to Border Report. Meanwhile, egg prices in the U.S. have risen to an average of $4.25 a dozen, an increase from approximately $1.79 a year ago, as per data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Additionally, the cost of processed eggs, which are used in liquid or powdered form in manufactured products such as salad dressing, cake mix, and chips, has also gone up.
The rising prices of eggs are attributed to the increasing consumer demand and a reduction in domestic egg supplies due to the avian flu epidemic that has affected U.S. poultry flocks. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 58 million birds have been infected with the disease and over 43 million egg-laying hens have been culled. This has made it the most severe outbreak of avian flu in American history. The USDA officials are currently investigating the cause of the outbreak.
Charles Payne, a supervisory agriculture specialist at U.S. Customs in El Paso, Texas, has stated that travelers entering the U.S. are required to declare eggs at the border, according to Border Report. If eggs are found, they will be confiscated and destroyed, but the penalty will be waived for the offender. It is mentioned that the customs officials prefer not to issue penalties, but occasionally have to in certain situations. Therefore, if eggs are declared, there will not be any issue.