The massive Iowa bird flu outbreak, which has seen millions of hens slaughtered in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly disease, is beginning to be felt in the economy. Just ask commercial bakers and producers of processed food in the U.S.. who have started experiencing shortages that have cut into production.
The USDA is poised to give them some relief, as they will soon be able to buy egg products from the Netherlands, the first European egg imports in more than a decade.
Five Dutch farming companies will begin selling egg products to American producers within days, according to a spokesman for the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The Iowa outbreak of bird flue has seen over 47 million birds killed as a result of the H5N2 virus. Egg laying hens accounting for 80 percent of the total, some 35 million birds.
In a normal market the United States usually produces enough eggs to export tens of millions of them a month, yet that's all changed recently. Shortages have sent prices for egg products used by bakeries and manufacturers soaring over 200 percent in just the past few weeks.
Cartons of regular factory farmed eggs for consumers have become 120 percent more expensive in the last month, pushing shoppers toward organic or cage-free options, as those prices haven’t jumped since the better cared-for hens haven't been impacted by the outbreak.
Canada is currently the only nation from which the U.S. imports commercial egg products. Yet the FSIS said The Netherlands’s food safety system “continues to be equivalent” to the U.S. system, and the lack of imports aren't a reflection of food safety but other economic factors.