Avian Flu Sparks Increased Demand For Organic and Free Range Eggs

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Avian Flu Sparks Increased Demand For Organic and Free Range Eggs

Due to Avian flu outbreaks at home and abroad the price of eggs are going up. In Iowa, it’s estimated that the flu has wiped out 31 million chickens and as demand increases and supply decreases, consumers have to pay more for eggs. But as a result, there’s been an increased demand for organic and free range eggs.

“Iowa is the leading egg producer, and in the course of four weeks, we lost half our industry,” Dave Rettig, president of Rembrandt Foods, a large egg producer based in Spirit Lake said to USA Today. “It came in like a tsunami and decimated the industry,” he said. “And experts expect this virus to come back in the fall. Who knows where it will go? But it could impact the entire country.”

The prices of eggs went up by a reported 90 percent in April and as the price of conventional eggs continues to go up, there’s less of a price difference between conventional eggs and organic and free range eggs. And when the price is right consumers are more likely to choose better quality.

“That gap of prices is definitely a lot smaller,” Nate Vollmer at Trig’s in Stevens Point, Wisconsin said to WSAW. “So customers say well, I find I’m going to pay a certain dollar amount for a certain product, and I could get maybe a more organic or more natural product for just a little more increase in price. Maybe I’ll do that this time instead.”

Free range and organic eggs haven’t been hit nearly as hard by the flu for a few reasons. First, the chickens aren’t caged together, so when one chicken gets it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole flock will be infected. Additionally, free range chickens eat a much healthier diet and live a much healthier life, which means they’re better able to avoid getting sick.

“If the Flu does get into one bird, it can easily spread to the rest because of the concentration. Where ours hopefully by not being as stressed in such a confinement, that we’re going to avoid those problems,” Wisconsin farmer Craig Carlson explained to WSAW. “To have a less stressful environment can only make them healthier.”

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Eggs image via Shuttershock

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