Bird Flu Causes Egg Shortage

Bird flu outbreaks around the Midwest are causing an egg shortage and price increases. Some "egg-dependent" companies are reportedly considering importing eggs from foreign farmers to make up for the domestic egg shortage.

The bird flu outbreak is also prompting some companies to seek "egg alternatives" for making their products. An Archer Daniels Midland Company representative said that the egg shortage has caused prices to rise and the food processing and commodities company has received a multitude of inquiries from manufacturers concerning "plant-based egg substitutes."

"The U.S. has never imported any significant amount of eggs, because we've always been a very low-cost producer," FarmEcon agricultural consulting firm representative Tom Elam said. "Now, that's no longer the case."

As previously reported by the Inqusitir, the avian flu outbreak caused the culling of about 40 million birds at farms around the country. American farmers, both large and small, are in the midst of the largest bird flu outbreak on record. The H5N2 bird flu virus has now been confirmed on farms in 16 states and in Canada as well.

So far, the rapidly spreading bird flu has not been known to cause human infections in the United States as it did in Asia during a 2003 outbreak.

American Bakers Association Vice President for Government Relations Cory Martin said the group is pushing for the USDA to "speed up approvals" for egg imports.

"We have members whose egg suppliers are already cutting back how much they'll receive in the next few weeks, while others are not getting any. They're looking for eggs everywhere. And the problem is, too, there's not enough egg substitute available right now to make up for the demand."
Differing regulations between the United States and European Union is expected to make importing eggs to America difficult. Farmers in the EU must be approved for an export license and possible alter safety standards and agriculture procedures before a single egg can appear on a plate in the United States.

Approximately 30 percent of the eggs in the United States, including those sold by the dozen, liquid eggs, frozen eggs, and dried eggs, have disappeared from the marketplace during the bird flu outbreak. Egg prices have already risen 63 cents and the H5N2 avian flu outbreak shows no signs of slowing just yet. The price of one dozen eggs sold at a grocery store is not about $2.03 in many locations. Ice cream makers are also reportedly bracing for shortage and are working with farmers to help protect hens from the bird flu.

Are you concerned that the bird flu will threaten the safety of the food supply?

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