If you’ve been grocery shopping recently, you’ve probably noticed you’re paying a lot more for eggs. Some stores are sold out, while others are restricting the number of cartons shoppers can buy. Egg prices are up by roughly 60% over the last year, according to Consumer Price Index data. It’s all because of a severe outbreak of avian flu that’s infected tens of millions of birds.
Restaurants are feeling the financial pain too.
Nickel Diner, which serves breakfast and lunch in downtown LA, uses 10 cases of eggs per week, which pans out to 1800 eggs, according to Chef Monica May. Each case now costs $100 each, compared to $20 pre-pandemic, she points out.
She tracked egg prices throughout 2022. “When we were paying $35, I was outraged and that was March of last year. And we've just slowly watched it grow and grow. Every week when I speak to my suppliers, I'm [like], ‘That's ridiculous. I can't pay that.’ But what are you going to do? I mean, this is what we serve.”
May says she’s raised prices, but only as much as her customers can bear.
“We're downtown. We feed a really financially diverse community. I'm not going to charge $18 for a plate of eggs. It's just not feasible. Basically, nobody's gonna show up.”
Instead, she’s relying on the volume of food she sells.
“Between inflation, the cost of eggs, minimum wage going up — every restaurant I know right now is just constantly pivoting. And egg prices going up is one more banana peel we're all trying not to slip on.”
She adds that Nickel Diner has been operating for 14 years and rode out many storms. The COVID pandemic taught her to take business one day at a time.
Next week, Nickel Diner and the AIDS Foundation will launch the “Egg it Up” program to address food insecurity and give eggs to those in need.
“If we're struggling to get eggs, imagine how those who don't have a lot of access to it are doing right now. As I like to say, eggs are the protein of the proletariat. It's an easy, simple piece of protein that you know everybody eats.”