CHICAGO (NewsNation) — Inflation has driven price increases in grocery stores, and egg prices are soaring amid the recent bird flu outbreak across the nation just before Easter and Passover.
Bakeries like Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery are feeling the pinch.
Farmers killed more than 20 million birds across 24 states, making this the worst outbreak in the U.S. in seven years.
“We don’t like raising prices; obviously, they don’t like it either, but we’re in an environment right now where we don’t have much of a choice,” said Eduardo Suarez, a baker at Sweet Connection.
The bakery uses $50,000 to $60,000 in eggs in a given month. For all of their specialties items — pies, cakes, cookies, and pastries — eggs are one of their top ingredients.
“It’s probably going to drive up the price at least another 30-35% from what it currently is,” Suarez said.
Scientists say wild birds migrating from Europe and Asia are infecting U.S. chickens, hens, turkeys, and even exotic birds with avian influenza, also known as bird flu, killing them.
Egg prices have soared more than 50% since the first outbreak this year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Such a drastic increase, we probably are going to have to pass it on to our customers as well,” Suarez said.
Customers won’t just feel the price pinch at bakeries but at grocery stores and restaurants, too.
“By far, this is the highest price we’ve ever seen on eggs. We are sitting at double the price,” said Joe Fasula, co-owner of Gerrity’s Supermarket.
Meanwhile, eggs and chicken are not the only products rising. Inflation is now about 8%. According to the U.S. Department of Labor price index, in the last year, milk has been up 11%, butter by more than 5%, and candy by 7%.
“A lot of bakeries in the Chicagoland area have recently shuttered because of rising commodity prices, shortage of labor, fuel costs,” Suarez said.
“It’s tough on the working man because he can’t make ends meet because he’s living paycheck to paycheck, and when you see gas prices and the price of your groceries going up like they are, it’s a terrible thing,” one consumer said.
According to the USDA, grocery prices could see an increase of up to 4% by December, and eating out could be 6% more expensive by then.