Egg prices have jumped as much as 40 cents a dozen in the past four weeks, at many Utah grocery stores and supermarkets - and Utahns buying eggs for Easter will find the price of a dozen eggs in the $1.08 to $1.20 range.

Utah egg producers say the price of eggs has risen generally because of a drop in egg production earlier this year, a heavier than normal demand for eggs because of the Easter holiday and a winter storm that killed millions of chickens in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.Chet Fassio, West Valley City, a major Utah egg producer and a member of the American Egg Board, said Thursday he expects the price of eggs to drop again by mid-April, to the 90-cents-to-$1- a-dozen range, "but I doubt if egg prices drop to the level they were a month ago - 80 to 90 cents a dozen - for some time."

Fassio, who owns and manages three egg production operations in West Valley City, Herriman and Erda, Tooele County, and has 500,000 laying hens that produce118 million eggs a year, said most of the eggs produced in Utah are sold along the Wasatch Front.

The winter storm in Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas killed up to 2 million brood hens worth about $55 million. The loss represents about 1 percent of the nation's egg-laying chickens.

Nationally, farm experts say, a 1 percent change in supply has a corresponding 5 percent change in price.

Fassio said Utah egg producers have suffered no great losses due to the weather this past winter. Utah has about 1.5 million laying hens, which is about normal for this time of year, Fassio said.

Fassio's son, Dick, general manager of the Fassio Egg Farms, said, "Even at today's price, eggs are still a bargain. When you consider eggs by weight, they are less than 80 cents a pound."