In Alaska, there is a shortage of eggs.
Oakdale, a major supplier of Washington eggs to retailers in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, is in the midst of execution More than 1 million chickens have been killed by an outbreak of bird flu, said Kyle Hill, president of Alaska Trading Company, which has 35 air-conditioning stores in rural Alaska.
The outbreak ultimately led to supply shortage problems throughout urban and rural Alaska, and the greater Northwest, Hill said. He said retailers are trying to find other suppliers who can produce as many eggs as possible. But this presents a challenge, since products such as eggs are usually regionally sourced.
“It’s not very common for Alaskans to get whites from California or from the Midwest,” Hill said.
Avian influenza has been interfering with egg supplies nationwide since March 2022, according to Tiffany Sanders, director of corporate affairs at Fred Meyer. The company limits egg purchases to two cartons per customer.
The Three Bears Alaskan grocery store chain, which has locations in communities across the road system, buys larger packages of eggs and then divides them into dozens, said Jim Kolb, the company’s director of marketing.
“We’ve got big holes now where the eggs are going to go,” Kolp said. “And we try to fill it in as best we can, but it is what it is.”
In Anchorage on Friday afternoon, at three Midtown grocery stores, supplies of eggs varied. At Carrs on Seward Highway on Benson Boulevard, things were looking just right, with just the right amount of brown and white. On Fred Meyer Street across the road, the shelves were almost bare, with only a few cartons left. Similarly, at the Midtown Walmart, egg cartons were littered. A sign there told customers to limit their purchases to just one.
In Alaska, goods including groceries arrive primarily by ship at the port of Anchorage. But that’s not why there’s a shortage of eggs, said Jim Geiger, director of business continuity and foreign affairs for the Port of Alaska. Two ships instead of four have been traveling north each week.
Recent weather delays and a decrease in the number of ships—both common at this time of year—may have caused the eggs and other supplies to arrive a day late, Jagger said, but “eggs don’t make it to the Tacoma dock.”
[Anchorage’s average home price rose to a record $456K, but higher interest rates are starting to cool the market]
Frida Cooper, owner of the Flying Dutchman Pastry Shop in Anchorage, has become somewhat of a choreographer since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means she hasn’t been hit hard by the egg shortage yet.
“The whole thing is a supply problem,” Cooper said.
Cooper notes that Costco started limiting loose eggs to two packages per customer weeks ago, so she’s been snapping up flats at other stores and hasn’t let the supply dwindle.
“You can’t let your guard down about anything,” she said.
They also keep liquid eggs, which were never in short supply. So far, they have been able to stretch their eggs well. But lately, she’s opted to skip making quiches, just to stretch things out a bit more. Cooper said she may be more comfortable making a quiche on Saturday, after hearing Costco has eggs.
Hill, with AC, said he was happy to secure a supply of eggs on track for shipment from Tacoma Saturday night, aboard the Matson container ship. They are due in on tuesday and the grocery chain will be taking them out.
But he said he expected the overall shortage to last another two to four months.
“(It’s) a tough time of year for this to happen, because Easter is just around the corner, and so every retailer is doing what they can,” Hill said. “But this isn’t going to be a one- or two-week fix.”
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