High egg prices frustrate shoppers, local restaurants

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Inflation is to blame for the rising cost of many different kinds of food, but there are other reasons why the price of eggs has skyrocketed recently.

Experts say the national average for a dozen eggs is nearly double what it was a year ago, and the bird flu outbreak is the biggest driving force behind the price hike.

“It’s crazy. That was a cheap breakfast to make in the morning, and eggs are good. It’s been ridiculous,” one shopper in Albuquerque said.

Eggs are even difficult to find in some stores.

“For larger families, it’s got to be a hardship for them to be able to support and feed their children,” another shopper in Albuquerque said.

The surge in prices is also hurting local restaurants, like The Range Café.

“I know people who are paying $8, $9 a dozen for cage-free eggs, and we can see that price double almost,” Executive Chef Matthew Schnooberger said.

The Range Café recently decided to switch to cage-free eggs, for taste, and now there’s a new problem. Colorado is following California’s lead, and as of this month, eggs produced there must be cage-free. It’s set to cause a ripple effect in New Mexico’s supply over the next three months.

“For us, we’re going to have to look at other options. Can we find a local place that may be able to keep up with our egg supply? We always love to go local when we can,” Schnooberger said. “We don’t always want to pass the buck on to our customers, because that’s not always fair.”

But New Mexico restaurant workers said customers will be paying more for food made with eggs.

Schnooberger said one option for restaurants is to get creative.

“Maybe we start looking at our breakfast items. Everyone loves huevos rancheros and we’ll never get rid of that, but what can we do to enhance our menu that maybe doesn’t have eggs in there that still has a great value for our customers and it still a nice, healthy option for breakfast,” he said.

There are some positives at grocery stores. The price of bacon, steak and avocados has fallen in recent months, though economists say high egg prices could stick around for months.