The national egg shortage crisis has left local businesses and students scrambling to find, sell and cook the breakfast staple.
Spudnuts, a 24-hour donut shop on Figueroa, serves breakfast meals all day long, attracting student traffic from morning to night. For them, eggs help keep the lights on.
“We use them very often, pretty much daily and we’re open 24 hours and you can imagine how often we use eggs,” Malidan Long, a Spudnuts employee said.
The crisis has made the lives of workers far from over easy, as some are driving to Long Beach and Norwalk neighborhoods to find eggs.
“They put a limit to how many eggs you can get,” Long said. “We can’t just go and get however many we need. I do know that a few of us do have to spread out and just buy eggs wherever we can, whether that be at the main restaurant depot we normally shop at or Food 4 Less, whatever store we can go and get eggs from.”
In January, the average local price for eggs in California soared to an all-time high of $5.97, up from $1.92 last year, according to data from the federal reserve.
Shelves are completely empty at Trader Joe’s in the USC Village. A carton of eggs at the neighborhood grocery store costs customers up to $4.99. Prices are steeper at the Village Target, with prices as high as $7.49 a carton.
For students like Kayla Mahboubi, a senior studying computational neuroscience, eggs are a “must-have.”
“I don’t usually go to the market, but when I do, I have realized that eggs are very expensive,” Mahboubi said. “It definitely affects a lot of people because eggs are such a staple, so when they’re expensive, it can definitely hurt a lot of families.”
A widespread bird flu outbreak has exacerbated the egg shortage, with rising fuel and packaging costs also to blame for the high prices, according to the New York Times.
More than five million birds across 47 states, including California, have been infected with the disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 340,000 more birds caught the virus in January as prices continued to soar.
As a result, some USC students are looking to online grocers to find their eggs.
“It’s been really hard,” said Sophia Schreiber, a freshman majoring in business. “My roommates and I eat lots of eggs with our breakfast, so we’ve been having difficulty getting eggs and every time we go in stores they’re sold out, so we’ve been having to order them on Amazon.”
Other students said the crisis is changing the way they eat.
“I have been struggling,” Zine Hassfuther, a sophomore business administration student said. “I’ve been changing my diet around the shortage of eggs.”