Eggs are an everyday staple in most fridges across America. They’re the perfect protein, the food you grab before a storm, and the inexpensive go-to. Easy, tasty, and cheap, eggs have it all, but recently, they haven’t had the same price range consumers and restaurants are hoping for. Not so inexpensive right now, eggs are soaring to almost $7.50 a dozen in certain states, says the Washington Post, and experts aren’t sure when it will come down.
Prices have been stubbornly rising since the avian flu outbreak in 2015, and have continued to rise because of supply chain problems due to COVID, says the article. America has lost over 10 million egg-laying hens because of the latest flu outbreak. In total, the flu has “wiped out more than 44 million egg-laying hens…roughly 4 or 5 percent of production,” says the Agriculture Department. The detrimental loss of the chicken flock has put pressure on both restaurants and consumers.
How Are Restaurants Responding to the Increase in Egg Prices?
Restaurants across America are still trying to regain their footing after COVID and inflation, and egg prices certainly aren’t helping. Although the price difference is concerning, restaurant owners are forced to get creative, says the Washington Post. There are no avoiding eggs on the menu, but the menu can pivot, like “doubling down” on less expensive options for eggs like pancakes. Some restaurants have had to forward the cost to customers, says WFSB, reworking the menu prices because of the increased costs of keeping pace with their production costs. According to CNN, some restaurants have decided to eat the cost themselves instead of passing it on to the customer, A mom-and-pop lunch spot in Rhode Island, which relies heavily on eggs for its menu, wants to hold the line and keep the customer happy, even if it means harder times for the restaurant, in the hopes that prices will go down soon.
Another option for restaurants is switching out eggs for a similar product, said a restaurant owner to USN News. With two restaurants and two bakeries in Arkansas, eggs are a must-have, but switching to a frozen and cheaper alternative egg product has helped with some of the products. For fresh meals, however, eggs are still unavoidable.
Although it seems “hang tight” might be the phrase for 2023 egg prices, the silver lining here is that farmers have learned from their practices in the past regarding flu outbreaks in their egg-laying communities, says the Washington Post. The 2015 outbreak caught farmers off guard, but they were more prepared (even though it was worse) for the 2022 outbreak with practices that keep their chicken flocks safer and less contaminated. Recovery is becoming quicker and quicker, said the article.
High egg prices will remain for a little longer (estimated 4 to 6 months), says The Dallas Morning News; however, they could decrease later in the year should there be no more intense outbreaks and farmers can replenish their flocks. According to the article, eggs are still a relatively inexpensive meal, and we shouldn’t give up hope that our staple is fading away.