The bird flu crisis is causing a national egg shortage that’s leaving many without their favorite summertime foods.
Suppliers of frozen custard, cookies, cakes, as well as mayonnaise and hard-boiled eggs for potato salad, are scrambling to find substitutes--or are just taking items off the menu.
Egg prices now cost more than double what they did two months ago, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The bird flu crisis has eggs costing more than 84% last month alone. That comes after a 56% jump in May. Wholesale chicken egg prices recorded the largest increase since the government began tracking the costs in 1937.
National Italian ice chain Rita's disappointed fans last week when it announced its beloved frozen custard is being phased out. The chain is temporarily replacing it with soft-serve ice cream.
John Lupo, owner of Grandma’s wholesale baker in White Bear Lake, Minn., who supplies baked good to grocery stores, is stockpile buckets of liquid eggs.
"We're trying to get as far ahead as we can," he said. "Buying from every source that is willing to sell to us. We're worried they'll be rationing."
The Chinese fast food chain Panda Express this week quietly started substituting corn for eggs in its fried rice, and discontinued hot and sour soup –also made with eggs.
Texas-based Whataburger recently revised breakfast hours to compensate for the shortage.
More than 49 million chickens and turkeys died or were euthanized in 15 states this spring as the flu virus spread from the Pacific Northwest into Midwest farms.
Some commercial bakers are experimenting with egg substitutes out of fear that the liquid egg shortage could last a couple of years.
Hampton Creek, which figured out how to make egg-intensive products like cookies and mayonnaise using plant-based ingredients, has score some big contracts. Hampton Creek shipped its Just Mix powdered egg substitute to General Mills. It also announced a contract with 7-Eleven to replace all of its mayo in its convenience stores with Hampton Creek's Just Mayo product.
But some bakers and food procedures say substitutes come with their own set of issues. Until then, they'll be stockpiling and hoping the egg supply will be replenished as the virus fades.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.