Egg Prices Fall After Avian Flu Recovery, Demand Still Stays Low

Image courtesy of brett jordan

Last year, an epidemic of bird flu killed millions of chickens and turkeys, affecting the supply of bird-based meats and of chicken eggs. Experts thought that the shortage and high egg prices might continue, but they were wrong: farmers were able to breed and raise new generations of female chicks, ready to take the place of their fallen colleagues.

Egg shortages led to interesting business decisions across the board: some grocery stores limited how many cartons each customer could buy at a time, while at least one fast-food restaurant cut back on its breakfast hours during the worst of the crisis, fearing that they could run out of eggs and disappoint customers in search of breakfast.

Because the free market is a tricky thing, now egg producers have the opposite problem. In states that the outbreak didn’t reach, farmers ramped up their production to take advantage of the high prices and to Egg prices have fallen significantly as production is up to record highs. In March, hens laid 613 million eggs, but demand is still low.

That’s partly because companies changed recipes so they don’t need eggs –– one example was Lactaid-brand holiday nog, which the company reformulated last year without eggs to avoid customer sticker shock, causing one fan to say that the eggless nog “tastes like sadness and chemicals.”

Mass producers of food may not be in a hurry to change their recipes back, though: there has been one case so far this year spotted at a turkey farm in Indiana, and there’s always the risk that the flu could re-emerge, even as farms take precautions, disinfecting their trucks and keeping birds from other farms off their property.

Bird Flu Egg Boom Goes Bust as U.S. Farms Quick to Replace Flock [Bloomberg]

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