Why the Price of Ice Cream, Mayonnaise Could Jump

Liquid egg shortage due to bird flu will affect dozens of food items
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2015 2:33 AM CDT
Updated May 15, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
Bird Flu Fallout: Pricier Eggs, Piles of Dead Birds
A batch of eggs is sprayed with water after entering the processing area of Dakota Layers in Flandreau, SD.   (Tracy Ramsdell/Dakota Layers via AP)

The worst outbreak of bird flu in US history is leaving farmers with huge piles of dead chickens and turkeys to get rid of—and leaving consumers with less money in their pockets. It's not just cartons of eggs that have gone up in price with the deaths of millions of hens, the New York Times reports, but the liquid eggs used in dozens of products like mayonnaise and ice cream. There are now 15 states with confirmed cases of avian flu, and Iowa, which supplies a fifth of the country's eggs, has been especially hard-hit, with more than 40% of its egg-laying chickens gone, the Times reports. It takes time to build new flocks of laying chickens, and analysts warn that prices are expected to keep climbing, especially for liquid eggs.

"We're starting to see some shortages, because for some of the companies that have lost a large number of these birds, there's no fallback," an exec at commodity analyst Urner Barry tells Bloomberg. "You can't just go and say, 'Oh, I need 2 million eggs today, where can I get them?' We're just not able to replace them that easily." In a worrying sign, a major South Dakota farm that had taken extensive precautions confirmed cases of avian flu this week and all of its 1.3 million hens will be euthanized, the AP reports. "As many poultry farms are discovering, even our extraordinary measures proved ineffective in preventing the spread of avian influenza into one of our barns," Dakota Layers said in a statement. (An egg producer in Iowa had to kill 5.3 million chickens last month.)

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