Americans may have to start rethinking breakfast as eggs flirt with $5 a dozen and with orange juice prices set to jump because of a poor Florida citrus crop and low cold storage stocks.
“Even at $5 per dozen (eggs) are a very cheap source of nutrient rich fat and protein. If anything changes at all, backyard chickens will become even more popular,” Kam Talebi of the Butchers Tale catering company told The Food Institute.
Indeed. The New York Times recently reported demand for chicks that will grow into egg-laying hens has skyrocketed.
“Everybody wants the heavy layers,” Ginger Stevenson, director of marketing at Murray McMurray Hatchery in Iowa, told the Times. Hatcheries are having a hard time keeping up and running low on some breeds, partly because they haven’t expanded in three years due to the pandemic and partly because they’re having trouble hiring workers.
LABOR COSTS, BIRD FLU KEY FACTORS
“One of our biggest cost increases is continuing to raise wages to compete,” Jeff Smith, one of the owners of Cackle Hatchery in Missouri, told the Times.
“I don’t see the inflation going anywhere.”
The agriculture department reported earlier this month that egg prices had fallen to about $3.40 a dozen. The cost doubled between 2021 and 2022. The huge increase was due in large part to the avian influenza epidemic, which led to the slaughter of more than 40 million egg-laying hens across the country.
But raising chickens is not easy and there’s an initial upfront investment for the chicks themselves, and construction materials for a coop. Then there are the predators.
RESTAURANTS EXPLORE OPTIONS
Beyond the breakfast table, restaurants and bakeries also are feeling the impact and looking for ways around it: sourcing ingredients locally and changing recipes.
“If eggs are prohibitively expensive and would drive up costs which would inevitably have to be passed down to the consumers, then it’s vital to pivot from the current menu and explore other options, Los Angeles registered dietitian nutritionist Yelena Wheeler told The Food Institute.
“Instead of pushing the typical eggs and bacon breakfast, maybe look at mixtures of potatoes, vegetables and cheese. For instance, a breakfast veggie quesadilla or fruit and yogurt parfait. Exploring other cultural breakfast staples that don’t include eggs can also be helpful.”
Meredith Marin, CEO of Vegan Hospitality, said eggs can be left out of just about any recipe, either by adding baking powder or egg substitutes.
“This works with pancakes, waffles, and many breads. … The great news is, guests will love their meal just as much, and you may even choose to keep these new recipes on your menu. You’ll save costs while opening up your menu to vegans and those with food sensitivities, as eggs are among the top eight allergens,” Marin said.
ORANGE JUICE OUTLOOK
When it comes to washing down that alternative breakfast, consumers may need to look for an alternative to orange juice. The USDA’s revised forecast said the Florida orange crop is likely to be the smallest since the 1935-36 season.
The projected harvest of 16 million boxes is the result of Hurricane Ian and a winter freeze. Groves also are suffering from two decades of greening disease, which produces fruits that are green, misshapen and bitter, making them unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or for juice. Infected trees generally die within a few years.
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