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National Egg Shortage: A grim prediction and a unique egg alternative

SANTA BARBARA, Calif - Chickens may not fly, but egg prices are soaring. It's all thanks to the combination of a deadly bird flu outbreak and rising feed and labor costs.

"We had to raise our prices," says one egg producer at the Santa Barbara Farmer's market.

Egg producers on the central coast are feeling the pinch during the nationwide egg shortage.

"Definitely getting more requests than we would on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon at the market here."

Roy Gandy, the owner of Roy's Restaurant says the rising egg prices are hurting his profits.

"The bottom line is when the cost of the eggs go up like 4 times, the profit margin just drops to zero," said Gandy.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, a deadly bird flu outbreak affected more then 48 million birds in 47 states. This caused prices for eggs in California to nearly triple compared to this time last year. Catie Field, the Deputy Executive Director at the San Luis Obispo Farm Bureau says this is because California gets the majority of its eggs from other states, which were hard hit by the bird flu.

"We have a cage free law in California that restricts producers to utilizing only cage free systems. And so, we really limited the amount of eggs that we can even import or produce within California," said Field.

Field says the lack of a vaccine contributed to the severity of the outbreak.

"The reason why it gets so extensive like this is that we don't have vaccine that is mass produced or affordable for large producers to use, and so there's not very many safeguards against."

Field adds that until the outbreak is under control and more poultry can be brought in to meet demand, egg prices will remain high.

"We will not see prices come down probably within 2023. We need to wait for the poultry production and poultry populations to stabilize."

One alternative to getting around the egg shortage is having chickens lay eggs for you. Gayle Eidelson, a Santa Barbara resident who owns chickens, says you might not save money using this method.

"I'd say, you're not going to save money having chickens, but you will get better eggs, even the even much more tasty than the organic eggs," said Eidelson.

Eidelson says if you do decide to own chickens, that you should buy at least three because they are social animals.

Workers at Ostrichland in Buellton say they have seen an increased interest in ostrich and emu eggs due to the egg shortage. One ostrich egg equals about two dozen chicken eggs and one emu egg is about a dozen chicken eggs. However, you probably won't save money this way because one ostrich egg sells for $60 and one emu egg sells for $25.

Rudy Lopez, a Santa Barbara resident, says despite the price, an emu egg still makes for a nice birthday breakfast.

"You know I was thinking about making bacon, eggs hash browns, toast. It is my wife's birthday so it should be enough for eleven people," said Lopez.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
egg shortage

Ryder Christ


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