An outbreak of the avian influenza, an infectious bird disease, has caused the deaths of tens of millions of chickens in California. This shortage of chickens has led to the prices of eggs skyrocketing and a shortage of eggs in stores. Local restaurants have felt the impact.
Andy Papavasiliou, co-owner of Troy’s Burgers #8 on York Boulevard, said egg prices have more than doubled.
“We haven’t raised our prices yet,” Papavasiliou said. “But I mean, if [price increases] continue at this rate. We’re going to eventually have to raise our prices because it’s a lot… We’re trying not to [increase prices] because everybody feels it — people feel it at the store, people feel it everywhere.”
According to the LA Times, the average price of a dozen eggs in California has increased from $4.38 to $7.37 since December.
Delia’s Restaurant, right around the corner from Occidental, serves Mexican food as well as an assortment of breakfast items. Mark Flores, son of the restaurant’s owner Delia Flores, said the restaurant did not change the menu in response to the egg price increase.
“[Inflation] is something we just have to work with, being so breakfast based,” Flores said. “I feel like everyone comes here mainly for breakfast.”
Flores said it initially was a struggle to find eggs as they were not available at his usual food suppliers like Restaurant Depot. Flores said he would search stores in LA to find better prices. However, Flores and Papavasiliou said they continue to stock the same amount of eggs as they did before the prices increased, even if that means paying higher prices than usual.
The co-owner of the chicken and egg distributor LA Poultry Fresh, Abdel Salam Elhawary, said they had no choice but to raise the price.
“Thank God we are still alive,” Salam Elhawary said.
Salam Elhawary said the high prices will continue for a while.
“I believe the chickens take five to six months in order to start laying eggs, so it might take this time to have the new production come,” Salam Elhawary said. “It might take one year, because of the cycle.”
Due to this wait — and the now definitive fact that the chicken does come before the egg — restaurants have buckled down. But Flores and Papavasiliou said they are not that worried, and are netting the same profits they usually do.
“I feel like it’s just being part of a restaurant,” Flores said. “We just have to deal with it.”
Flores said they have raised prices, but not by much.
“It was mainly the breakfast stuff, more egg based,” Flores said. “I don’t think it’s a significant difference, maybe like 50 cents to a dollar.”
Eggs are not the only commodity that have risen in price recently. According to Flores, butter was high in price for a while, and Papavasiliou said the price of lettuce more than tripled.
According to Salam Elhawary, the avian flu is not the only reason why prices are so high. Prices have been slowly increasing since the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that sellers are accustomed to this higher price, he said he does not think the price of eggs will go down.
“The price hopefully will go back,” Salam Elhawary said. “But I don’t think after they raise the price they’ll go back. When things go up, they don’t go down.”
For all three businesses, they said these changes have not resulted in a decrease in customers. However, Papavasiliou, Salam Elhawary and Flores said they want to stay consistent to the community.
“We have generations of people that come in, like, the grandparents come in the morning, and their grandkids come in the evening,” Flores said. “I know a lot of the families.”
LA Poultry Fresh supplies halal meat, and Salam Elhawary said they provide to many Bangladeshi families in LA, as well as people at his mosque.
As for Delia’s, Flores said they have always focused on being available to the community, despite the egg crisis.
“We always try to keep things accessible,” Flores said.
Flores said that support goes both ways. While Delia’s — which turns 20 this month — supports the community, the community supports them back.
“I feel like people look out for us too. They make an effort to come support us,” Flores said. “I don’t think we’re too concerned about the near future.”