Restaurant industry scrambles to deal with rising egg prices

Egg prices in supermarkets across various parts of the country have tripled as the largest outbreak of avian influenza to ever hit the U.S. has now spread to 21 states, infecting 298 total sites. This is resulting in a carton of 12 extra-large eggs that used to cost 99 cents, now hitting the $3.00 range, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture egg market report.

Prices of liquid egg, used in restaurants and bakeries for items such as cakes, cookies, mayonnaise and breakfast dishes, have shot up even higher — about 240% since early May.

“It’s a very ugly situation [that is] headed our way,” Tony Lordi, the production manager at a bakery in Kansas City, Mo., said in a recent article. “We ordered 900 buckets of eggs and got 70. They’re telling us as of July first, we get zero… what do I do?”

Iowa, the center of the lethal bird flu outbreak, is the country’s largest egg-producing state and of the 47 million birds killed so far because of the outbreak, most of them were part of “breaker” operations, an on-farm process in which chickens lay the eggs, which are then broken, liquefied, frozen or dried.

Currently, the outbreak has cost farmers roughly 12% of the national flock, according to a study from Iowa State University’s Egg Industry Center. Officials believed the outbreak was slowing as the first turkey farm that was infected got back online in Minnesota recently. However, earlier this week, the first case of bird flu was reported in Michigan, with a Canada goose testing positive for the disease.

As stated in the article, all this comes at an unfortunate time for the egg industry, which has enjoyed record per capita consumption during the last few years— thanks to popular high-protein diets, Brian Moscogiuri, an egg industry analyst, said in an article.

One fast food chain has even reduced its weekday breakfast hours to curb egg demand and some breakfast restaurants in Los Angeles have added a $1 surcharge to egg dishes to cope with egg prices.

“In this day in age when we are trying to keep food affordable, it’s making it tough,” restaurant co-owner Kristen Trattner, said in another article.

Some relief could be on its way however, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved new egg imports from the Netherlands last week. The only other country that imports eggs to the U.S. is Canada, but officials have said they may open up trade to other countries if supplies continue to remain tight.

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