Despite the bird flu increasing prices of eggs across the United States, the University of Richmond’s contracted food rates keep their costs consistent.
UR’s contract with Performance Food Service, a wholesale food provider, keeps the price of eggs the same no matter the market price, Alison McCormick, the director of purchasing for UR, said.
“It keeps the prices pretty honest, so we’re not being gouged,” McCormick said. “Today it’s eggs, but in a few weeks it’s going to be beef. That’s just the trends we see coming.”
Eggs are a staple item for the Heilman Dining Center and the other dining options on campus. The dining hall uses shell eggs, liquid eggs, hard-boiled eggs and egg whites, McCormick said.
One dozen eggs cost $6.99 at Everything Convenience as of Jan. 26.
“We used 4,890 dozen from August [to December],” McCormick said. “And that’s not accounting for the liquid eggs that we use for our scrambled eggs or our omelets or the liquid eggs in our recipes.”
The dining hall used 16,260 pounds of liquid eggs last semester, McCormick said.
“We’re still operating within our budget,” McCormick said.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, avian influenza, commonly known as the bird flu, is a viral illness found in wild bird populations. However, the virus can become highly pathogenic. This change in the virus is deadly to domestic chickens and turkeys.
Sheila Martin, UR’s contact at Performance Foodservice, said that because of the price guarantee set by UR’s contract, prices have been steady from last August to December.
The exception to the steady price is the organic eggs used at Organic Krush.
“Those are based on the market, and their prices will change each week since that is a very niche supplier,” Martin said.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
The prices of Organic Krush eggs are based on the market prices since these farmers typically have smaller farms, Martin said.
“The avian flu has hit small producers really hard,” Martin said.
The farmers who supply Organic Krush with their eggs have fewer chickens so if one of their chicken houses is sick, the farmer will lose a large supply of eggs and has to up his prices, Martin said.
When there is an outbreak of the bird flu, farmers have to kill every chicken in the infected houses, Martin said.
“He doesn’t have a couple thousand chickens sitting there,” Martin said. “He has to wait for more to hatch.”
From the day a chicken hatches, it takes five months for them to start laying eggs, Martin said.
“The guys doing the eggs for HDC and Tyler’s, they have multiple chicken housing and laying facilities,” Martin said. “So if they get an infection in one of their houses, they have 20 others to pull eggs from.”
Deniz Besik, professor of analytics & operations at UR, said multiple factors affect these types of price increases.
“Even before [the COVID-19 pandemic], prices were affected by the trade wars in China, including soybeans and dairy,” Besik said. “Or even avocados from Mexico. There are a lot of different issues.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there were labor shortages and fuel price increases, Besik said.
“A lot of things are happening at the same time with the avian flu with eggs,” Besik said. “All these factors came together and now we see the price spike.”
According to the USDA’s egg markets overview for January, the average price of a dozen eggs went from $1.93 to $4.25 from January 2022 to December 2022.
“When something is a stable item,” McCormick said, “we kind of just have to ride the wave. We feel good about where we are in terms of what we’re paying to our vendors.”
Contact executive co-editor Amy Jablonski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support independent student media
You can make a tax-deductible donation by clicking the button below, which takes you to our secure PayPal account. The page is set up to receive contributions in whatever amount you designate. We look forward to using the money we raise to further our mission of providing honest and accurate information to students, faculty, staff, alumni and others in the general public.Donate Now