Photo/Illutration Officials prepare to cull hens on Jan. 13. (Provided by Niigata Prefecture)

Egg prices are spiking on shelves across the nation as the government said more than 10 percent of egg-laying hens in Japan needed to be culled amid the country’s worst avian flu outbreak.

The agriculture ministry reported on March 2 that 15.02 million birds across the country have needed to be destroyed. Of these, the majority, 13.85 million, are laying hens.

As of February 2022, the total number of laying hens in Japan stood at 137.29 million. 

On the same day, officials started culling 243,000 laying hens at a chicken farm in Fukuoka in the latest avian flu outbreak.

Since autumn 2022, 77 outbreaks have been reported across 25 prefectures.

The falling supply is pushing up egg prices. In February, a carton of 10 eggs was selling at an average price of 262 yen ($1.92), according to an agriculture ministry survey of 470 retailers across the country.

That was an 8 percent increase from the previous month and 25 percent higher than the typical price in February in recent years.