Consumer prices may have inched lower overall, but the price of eggs sure hasn’t. Compared to the most recent price index for “other food at home,” the index for eggs rose 11.1% vs. 0.4%. Year over year, the price of eggs has risen 59.5%. Thank you, avian flu.
That problem spells double trouble for most consumers. For those who buy eggs at the supermarket, they could be paying upwards of $5. If they want eggs when they’re having breakfast out somewhere, they’re going to find even more sticker shock.
“It’s been getting harder and harder to fill our orders,” Tyler Michaux, a partner at Blue Moose Restaurant in Breckenridge, CO, told SummitDaily. “The price has basically doubled for us on our costs and that hurts considering that it’s breakfast.”
In just the last two weeks, Michaux said his average cost for an extra large case of eggs (180 eggs) has increased from a high of $30 to a new high of $80. And that’s a major stress point for breakfast-oriented restaurants. Michaux said he goes through dozens of eggs a day to meet its orders. Imagine if you’re a bean counter at IHOP or Denny’s.
For the time being, consumers haven’t retaliated. Consumer spending at restaurants is up 7% according to a new report by Baird. And restaurants haven’t gone overboard trying to recoup the extra money they’re forking over for their foodstuffs, either – yet.
Some 92% of restaurateurs call food costs a “significant challenge,”, and because of persistent inflationary pressures, 50% expect to be less profitable this year. At some point, consumers have to expect that those restaurant owners can no longer afford to keep their finger in the dike and will have to pass on those costs to their diners.
Restaurants need to be honest with their customers
And with Covid relief loans now coming due, that break could come soon. “Unfortunately, independent operators must pass the costs on to consumers, with breakfast- and brunch-focused restaurants feeling it the most,” Renee Guilbault, veteran food-industry consultant and principal of Essayer Food Consulting, told ConsumerAffairs.
“This is a great opportunity for restaurants to look at their menu items to remove dishes that don’t do well financially, and re-engineer dishes into more profitable items,” she said, pointing to breakfast items like crepes that use fewer eggs than an omelet.
But, if and when a restaurant raises prices, Guilbault says that the owners need to be upfront. “Add a line on the menu about prices or put signage in the store. Show the customers that you are in it with them. When the price of eggs drops, lower the price of your dish as well.”
There are egg substitutes, you know
If eggs are a go-to purely for protein, consumers have options if the price of eggs becomes a burden. Adylia-Rhenee Gutierrez, a certified nutritionist and creator of Build Yhorlife Coaching, told ConsumerAffairs there are plenty of healthy substitutes.
“Cottage cheese, paneer, chickpeas, almond butter, lentils, quinoa, and shrimp are all great sources of protein, iron, healthy fat, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium, " she said. “So either of these can provide a healthy substitute for eggs.”
Baking, however, is a different matter. According to Gemma Stafford at BiggerBolderBaking, the most commonly used egg substitutes for baking are:
Ground Flax Seed mixed with water
Yogurt (dairy-free or regular)
Sweetened Condensed Milk
The only downside to those substitutes is that they’re not “shelf-stable.” If someone is looking for an egg substitute they can use for baking and can be stored without refrigeration, Stafford recommends:
Arrow root powder (paleo)
Oil, Water and Baking Power