Eggs can be an important source of vitamins, minerals, iron, and carotenoids, being a great food that provides the human body with these essentials for healthy living. The new year began with a huge disappointment for egg fans, however. Eggs have been in limited supply in some areas of the U.S. and scarce in others, pushing the price up almost 400 percent year over year in December 2022 on average. Supermarkets that do have eggs are selling them at higher price points, and some are rationing the number of cartons a customer is allowed to buy.
The reason for the egg shortage is that there was a nationwide outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza, popularly known as bird flu, since February 2022, affecting egg-laying hens as well as turkeys. Reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Egg Board confirm the loss of about 43 million egg-laying hens. About 51 million birds (turkeys and hens) were killed as of November 2022, making this outbreak the second worst in the history of the country, after 2015’s experience.
It’s been almost a year since the outbreak began, but at this time, the whole supply chain has been affected, from producers to distributors to grocery chains and even consumers. In addition to the terrible impact of avian flu, the egg industry is still dealing with challenges the coronavirus pandemic brought about, including higher labor costs and labor shortages, which have exacerbated supply chain woes.
Weather conditions do not only affect plants but livestock as well. The influence of sunshine and/or daylight for egg-laying hens is very crucial in the consistency and quality of the eggs laid. The earlier days of January saw heavy rainfall, especially in California, and snowfall in other parts of the country. With the sun coming out, many are hoping the quarantined hens will find the weather favorable enough to lay more eggs.
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