The U.S. experienced its worst bird flu outbreak ever, resulting in farmers’ loss of 48 million turkeys and chickens, Reuters reports. Due to limited supplies, farmers will likely have a difficult time rebuilding. Producers say it could take up to two years to replenish flocks, in part due to the shortages of baby poultry.
While some farm sites will be able to bring in new birds by the fall, others will have to wait longer due to the lengthy cleanup process. Each farm will be tested individually by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and then cleared for rebuilding. The process may be extended if migrating ducks bring in the bird flu virus.
Due to the bird flu loss, the USDA estimates that the price of eggs will be higher than expected for this year and will stay high through next year, according to Reuters. There is also an expected 19 percent price increase (up to $1.36 per pound) for turkeys for this Thanksgiving, compared to the price they were on the holiday last year (about $1.14 per pound).
The tight supply of eggs will also result in higher prices. According to Reuters, USDA predicts egg prices to reach $2.52 per dozen in the fourth quarter of 2015 and $1.78 per dozen in 2016. Companies such as Hy-Line International are reportedly inundated with baby chick orders from farmers looking to replenish their egg-laying hens. Farmers who have placed those orders for the fall are “hanging on to those orders in hopes that they can get approval” from the USDA to restock, Tom Jorgensen, general counsel for Hy-Line said.
Even if approval is given, it is likely going to be quite some time before turkey and egg prices go back down.