Rising egg prices are forcing some Greenville area restaurants to consider menu increases
The cost of breakfast dishes could rise at your favorite brunch establishment in the Greenville area as restaurant owners say they are looking at ways to deal with rising egg prices to stay profitable while still delivering quality food and service.
Egg prices have been rising for months because the annual increase in demand around end-of-year holidays, higher production costs, and an avian flu outbreak that has killed more than 43 million hens since February 2022 are to blame for high prices, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
"People haven't stopped coming in, and egg prices are at the biggest price increase I've seen in a while," said Jessica Elvis, general manager at Biscuit Head on Church Street in Greenville. "Luckily, we have a great customer base."
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The 11 current egg-based dishes at Biscuit Head make no profit because of surging prices from their wholesale food provider, Elvis said. If prices continue to rise, the menu could be in consideration for a price increase, she said, but nothing has been confirmed.
"We want to see how things change over time, first," Elvis said.
OJ's Diner, near West Greenville, has operated at a higher cost for more than a year now, not only on egg-based dishes but food overall, as a result of grocery prices rising since the pandemic, said Jordan Johnson, general manager of OJ's on Pendleton Street.
To combat the issue, he said OJ's has started making eggs to-order, alongside other side dishes, while tightening up on food waste and making payroll adjustments to hold down costs.
"Our price points have always been on the lower end," Johnson said. "We've done the best we can, but you do have to make minor adjustments to stay in business."
OJ's Diner shops with large food distributors for their eggs. And, Johnson expects egg and food prices to stay high over the next few months as their vendors adjust volume and prices due to the avian flu outbreak.
Local Anderson stores and dining affected by egg prices
At Whitehall Produce Market in Anderson, the price for a dozen eggs has stayed firm at $5 per carton between seven and eight months ago but has increased by a dollar because of the flu outbreak, hen feed shortages and supply chain issues, said Michele Rogala, store manager.
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Because of the flu outbreak, feed and supply chain issues, eggs are on the verge of increasing to $6.25 per dozen, as their eggs are locally purchased and farmed, and come as GMO-free, and free-range as possible.
"People are still buying eggs," she said. "In a regular store they're $5, so people might as well come get them here, where they're locally sourced."
South Carolina and national egg production problems
The federal price for a dozen large Grade A eggs reached $4.25 last December, which rose from the $1.79 mark in 2021, according to a previous USA Today report. These prices are a result of the recent holiday demand, the aforementioned avian flu outbreak, and feed prices for egg-laying hens.
The avian flu outbreak has destroyed nearly 10% of the hen-laying population in the United States, which illustrates the basic laws of supply and demand, with the price rise in eggs dictating the scarcity in stores, said Jason Jones, department chair of economics at Furman University.
"The higher price avoids shortages in the stores," Jones said. "Without the higher price, the same number of people would have wanted the smaller number of eggs available."
Jones agreed with the agricultural economic predictions of egg farmers seeing prices lowering by the middle of 2023.
Upstate SC egg farmers also battling shortages
Supply chain issues caused a delay for Justin Doyle, owner of Odessy Farms in Seneca. Doyle said a shortage of egg cartons took nearly three weeks to replenish leaving him without a way to package his supply for local vendors.
Doyle expects it to be another eight to 10 weeks before normal egg batches are produced on the local level. And he also has had to deal with feed issues.
"The drought over the summer in the Midwest and out West caused feed prices to have gone up," Doyle said. "Almost all of their food contains corn or wheat, and things got out of hand over time."
When Doyle first started his farm over two years ago his GMO-free, free-range chickens went for $5 per dozen and have remained at that price point. His 200-plus chicken and hen farm sell to smaller establishments like Grits & Grace grocery store in Liberty and Palmetto Spoon, a food truck in Salem.
"I'm in it to make a living, not a killing," Doyle said.
– A.J. Jackson covers arts, entertainment and more for The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail. Contact him by email at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @ajhappened.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Cost of breakfast dishes could increase because of rising eggs prices.