Severe outbreaks of bird flu in the United States and France are tightening global egg supplies and raising prices for the food staple as the war in Ukraine disrupts shipments to Europe and the Middle East.
Reuters reported that bird flu has wiped out more than 19 million egg-laying chickens on commercial US farms this year in the worst outbreak since 2015, eliminating about 6% of the country’s flock, according to calculations based on federal and state government data.
France, meanwhile, is suffering its worst outbreak ever in which about 8% of egg-laying hens have been culled.
The deadly virus and war are the latest challenges for egg suppliers also grappling with labour shortages and high costs for energy and grain used for animal feed.
Egg prices are expected to stay elevated, producers said, as it will take months to resume operations on infected farms. Infections also hamper work at facilities that process shell eggs into products like dried eggs and liquid eggs used in food items such as cake and pancake mixes and egg sandwiches.
“The product industry is in a general panic,” said Marcus Rust, chief executive of Rose Acre Farms, the second-largest egg producer in the United States.
Mr Rust said the company lost about 1.5 million egg-laying chickens at an Iowa farm infected by bird flu, which also sidelined a processing plant.