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Egg prices soar as US avian flu epidemic affects imports

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Lindo’s Group of Companies has had to charge customers more than double the usual price for imported eggs, due to the effects of the bird flu in the United States (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A local grocer has been forced to charge customers more than double its usual price for imported eggs, due to the effects of bird flu in the United States.

About 58 million poultry had been infected with the virus in the US by this week, forcing the price of eggs to increase by 60 per cent on average within the past year.

Zach Moniz, manager of the Lindo’s Group of Companies, said that the cost was rising every week and carrying over to Bermuda.

He said: “Normally, we are looking at $3.99 for a carton of [a dozen] eggs, and at the moment, we should be charging over $10.

“We have kept the price low on some, at $7.99, but that is not sustainable for us.

“What we pay wholesale for a case has risen exponentially within the last three to five years.”

More than 50 million poultry in the US have been infected by the bird flu virus (file photograph).

Mr Moniz believes that the price may go down once the flu gets under control but noted that the cost of eggs will always change based on supply and demand.

Avian influenza, or bird flu, affects many species of birds, including chickens and turkeys. Once infected, the birds must be killed to prevent further contagion.

Tredick Gorham, president of the Supermart Ltd, said his shops had also had to charge customers more for imported eggs because of the virus. He could not predict when the price would flatten or go down.

He said: “What happens is that chickens die and they have to wait for the younger ones to get old enough to lay an egg, so I think that [the price spike] is going to be around for a while.”

Mr Moniz added that the price of local eggs had also gone up within the past year.

“[A dozen jumbo local eggs] went from $5.25 in April to $7.25 now, but that is more reflective of inflation and what they have to pay for feed and what it takes to run the farm,” he said.

Alternatives to eggs for cooking and baking

Eggs are one of the most common foods used in cooking and baking but here are some other effective options to use and the amount needed to match one egg, according to healthline.com.

Applesauce: Around 1/4 cup

Yoghurt or buttermilk: 1/4 cup

Tofu: 1/4 cup, puréed

Commercial egg substitute: generally, mix between 1 1/2 tablespoons of powder with between 2 and 3 tablespoons of water (recipes vary)

Gelatin: mix 1 tablespoon in 1 tablespoon of cold water, then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of boiling water until frothy.

Malcolm Smith, owner of Bermuda chicken farm Windy Bank, said the farm had to charge more for eggs because prices had risen for farm supplies.

He said: “The cost of electricity, getting the feed to Bermuda and our egg cartons have all gone up within the last three years.”

Windy Bank is the island’s main producer of local eggs and has more than 7,000 hens that lay between 5,000 and 6,000 eggs each day.

Mr Smith said bird flu had not come to Bermuda but would have severe consequences if it did.

He said: “If our flock were wiped out, it would take six months and a ton of money to get back to where we were.”

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Published January 21, 2023 at 8:01 am (Updated January 21, 2023 at 5:46 pm)

Egg prices soar as US avian flu epidemic affects imports

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