Those who want an omelet or any meal including eggs might be having to pay more in the near future. With millions of chickens on farms that have been wiped out by a bird flu this spring, restaurants are having a difficult time dealing with the rise in egg prices and the headache in getting enough eggs for their dishes.
Even Omaha restaurant owner Nick Bartholomew, who gets his eggs from a local producer, is having trouble. His producer’s inventory has been diminishing to meet recent demands while federal safety officials continue pressing on the production. When asked about this, Bartholomew replied “We're now having to use three or four different producers and call around to different chicken farms to see what is available and when it will be available” and says he’ll have to raise prices soon or take egg dishes of the menu. Waveland Café owner David “Stoney” Stone remarked “It’s costing us between $400 and $500 a week” paying for egg dishes.
All this trouble is caused by the H5N2 avian flu virus that has begun showing up in Midwest commercial turkey and chicken farms this spring. Approximately 48 million turkeys and chicken have either died or were euthanized to prevent the virus from spreading. Because of this crisis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its forecast for table egg production this year to 6.9 billion dozen. The lowered production means prices for a dozen eggs have raised considerably, almost 120% from their pre-bird flu prices to $2.62 and it could take up to two years for normal production to resume, a year at best.