Restaurants are struggling to deal with higher egg prices and an inability to get enough eggs and egg products in the midst of a shortage brought about by a bird flu virus that wiped out millions of chickens on commercial farms this spring. Some restaurants are pulling especially eggy dishes off menus while others are contemplating raising prices until the supply returns to normal.
The H5N2 avian flu virus began showing up in Midwest commercial turkey and chicken farms this spring. To date, 48 million turkeys and chickens have died or were euthanized to prevent the virus from spreading further. The frequency of new cases has slowed dramatically in most states, though agriculture officials said last week that an Iowa chicken farm with 1 million egg-layers tested positive for the virus.
Because of the egg crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its forecast for table egg production this year to 6.9 billion dozen, a 5.3 percent drop from 2014. By late May, the price for a dozen Midwest large eggs had soared 120 percent from their mid-April, pre-bird flu prices to $2.62, industry analyst group Urner Barry said.
Prices began falling last week, but officials say it could take up to two years to return to normal production.