PHOENIX — Egg prices in Arizona are rising just as grocery bills are getting more expensive, and there's no relief in sight.

The average egg price is about 50% higher now than a year ago, according to Julie Murphree, outreach director for the Arizona Farm Bureau.

"Our egg prices are certainly much higher than they normally are," Murphree told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Some grocery stores across the Valley are also experiencing shortages of eggs.

She said much of the blame is on the avian flu, also known as the bird flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected nearly 58 million cases in birds across the United States.

Locally, Murphree said she isn't hearing that the bird flu has affected major egg producers. CDC data shows only two of the 717 reported outbreaks are from Arizona.

"Our farmers that are egg producers are being very vigilant about this," she said. "But because we have the outbreak that has shown up in other parts of the country, it's going to impact all of us because it tightens up supply."

Murphree added even though eggs are more expensive, she doesn't recommend people cut back on buying them.

"They're still one of the most economical forms of protein that you and I can access," she said. "They're very nutrient-dense, as my nutritionist friends like to say."

It's not just eggs that are costing more. Groceries in general are higher than last year.

Murphree said she blames inflation. Phoenix saw the nation's highest inflation last year, causing food prices to rise more than 12%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"We may be dealing with this for some time, so I would encourage shoppers to really be effective in trying to bargain hunt and buy in bulk when it makes practical sense."

She also recommended sticking to basic food items - like milk, eggs and bread - to keep costs down.