Avian flu causes nationwide egg shortage

Homemade corned beef hash, eggs wheat toast and homemade jelly. Dan Watson/ The Signal

If you’re scrambling for eggs, searching high and low at the supermarkets, no need to look further because to crack the case of the missing eggs — the answer lies in a nationwide shortage caused by an outbreak of avian flu. 

The Centers for Disease and Control detected a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in the U.S. affecting wild aquatic birds, commercial poultry and backyard or hobbyist flocks since the beginning of January 2022. However, the avian flu continues to spread among birds — and many Americans, including residents in the Santa Clarita Valley, are starting to see the effects, or lack of, at their supermarkets.  

According to the CDC, the avian flu affected approximately 57.8 million birds, the avian flu has hit 47 different states and 363 counties, and there were 715 reported outbreaks as of Dec. 29. The CDC created an interactive map that marks counties across the nation with reported avian flu outbreaks. 

In California, there are 12 reported outbreaks, according to the CDC. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also released a report on Dec. 30, which discussed an overview of the egg market. As a result of inflation, Americans saw in increase in prices for day-to-day items such as meats, avocados, milk and eggs.  

“Wholesale prices for cartoned shell eggs have begun to recede into the new year,” according to the USDA. “Demand is moderate to good with business focused on restocking.” 

The wholesale price in California for large, white shell eggs increased $0.90 to $7.50 per dozen, while in the New York market the eggs delivered to retailers decreased $0.23 to $5.19 per dozen, and in the Midwest for eggs delivered to warehouses the cost increased $0.23 to $5.30 per dozen, according to the report. 

In addition to the avian flu causing a nationwide shortage, winter storms are piling on and causing delays in supermarkets being restocked with eggs.  

“The major winter storm that shut down commerce across a large swath of the nation ahead of Christmas is still impacting parts of the country,” reads USDA’s report. “The storm temporarily slowed movement of shell eggs at retail outlets, but as consumers dig out and return to their local markets, eggs remain high on their shopping lists.” 

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