Avian flu partly to blame for spiking egg prices

Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 9:00 AM MST
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REDMOND, Wash. (KING) - Inflation has hit all parts of the economy, with the evidence in your grocery bill.

For one item, however, there’s one factor that’s having a big effect.

Avian flu is hitting farms hard, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating nearly 58 million commercial and backyard birds were affected in the past year across the country.

One example of the virus’ impact is in Washington at the Red Barn Farm.

While inspecting a chicken coop, owner Chelsea Carrigan only found one egg, a disappointing result, but a common occurrence for many farms across the state.

“The avian flu has definitely impacted us,” Carrigan said.

It’s a challenge Carrigan has been taking on since May of 2022 when the avian flu was first detected in the state.

“One wild bird coming into their chicken run, and the next thing you know 10 birds, 20 birds, 30 birds,” Carrigan said. “They’re just dropping dead.”

Carrigan said they had to shut down agritourism in fear of the flu coming to her farm. The farm also tried to cover their runs as much as possible, so wild birds wouldn’t come in.

“We also do health checks on them,” Carrigan said.

On top of the avian flu having its impact, she believes the unpredictable seasonal changes have also been a leading cause of her chickens struggling to lay eggs.

“Eighteen eggs some days, when we were usually getting 15 to 18 dozen this time last year,” Carrigan said.

She said the lack of production and an increase in costs for chicken feed and cartons has led her to increase her own prices.

One nearby breakfast staple has already been dealing with similar problems for months with their own supplier.

“Outrageous, as you’ve seen at the grocery stores, that you’re paying a lot more for your eggs and all your breakfast products,” said Anne Harris, the manager of Redmond Family Pancake House.

Harris said in her 30 years of working at the restaurant she’s never seen eggs cost this much.

She estimated her suppliers had increased prices for eggs by about 60%.

However, Harris said that’s just the price of doing business, and it’s much better to have eggs in house than to be scrambling looking for them at the market.

“We hope that people will continue to come in and eat the eggs,” she said.

Washington state wildlife officials said as of mid-December, there were more than 90 confirmed positive cases of avian flu across the state.