Prices For Eggs, Turkey Meat Starting To Rise As Bird Flu Outbreak Continues

We’ve heard warnings that Thanksgiving turkey supplies could suffer a hit this season amid a severe outbreak of avian flu in the Midwest that began in April, and now it appears consumers will begin to see effects in their wallets. The prices for eggs and turkey meat are going up as more chickens and turkeys fall to the disease.

As the flu has hopped from flock to flock in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, farmers have been forced to kill large numbers of birds to try and contain its spread.

That’s led to wholesalers and grocery stores rushing to stock up on eggs, while the cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has risen almost 17% from $1.19 to $1.39 a dozen since just mid-April, at the start of the outbreak, reports the Associated Press.

Turkey prices are also up a bit, after 5.6 million birds nationwide have died since the outbreak started: the price of fresh boneless and skinless tom breast meat, the sort used in deli meat, is up 10% to $3.37 a pound, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said. Frozen hens in the 8- to 16-pound range, those often used for home roasting, were up about 3% to $1.06 a pound.

So far more than 26 million Iowa chickens have died, most of which lay eggs for food use. That amounts to 8% of all the laying hens in the country, which would mean hens laying more than 500 million table eggs a month (instead of eggs used to make processed foods). Before the outbreak spread, Iowa chickens laid 1.4 billion table eggs in March.

There’s some bright news, however, despite new outbreaks in Minnesota’s turkey producing farms and earlier reports of a possible shortage — market experts are now saying that Thanksgiving will arrive with plenty of turkeys on hand, thanks to cold storage stocks and the number of hens still on farms.

“Anybody who wants a Thanksgiving turkey is going to be able to get one,” Tom Elam, an agricultural economist and poultry industry consultant told the AP. “They may have to pay a little more for it but we’re not going to have national stock-outs for Thanksgiving turkeys, yet.”

Egg, Turkey Meat Prices Begin to Rise as Bird Flu Spreads [Associated Press]