Food costs are already high. Bird flu could make things worse.
The news has been filled with stories this year of poultry woes, from the struggles of workers processing our chicken in unsafe conditions to the challenges of restaurants and schools getting the chicken they need. And of course, there’s the rapidly rising cost of food that we’re all dealing with at the grocery store. (Sticker shock has reached new heights in Hawaii, where a friend of mine recently found an organic chicken for an eye-popping $8.99 a pound—$48 for the whole bird.) If things haven’t seemed bad enough, avian influenza is about to make it worse. Bird flu is raging in Asia and Europe, writes Bloomberg, with more than 40 countries experiencing outbreaks since May. The United Kingdom is currently grappling with its biggest-ever outbreak, and more than a million birds have been culled since November in Poland. All these outbreaks are likely to put more pressure on production, affect costs, disrupt U.S. trade, and lessen the availability of free-range eggs in Europe. —Jessica Terrell