The U.S. Department of Agriculture had given the approval to five egg producers from the Netherlands to sell egg products to the U.S. amid efforts to alleviate egg shortage caused by the recent bird flu outbreak.
It is the first time in nearly two decades the U.S. decides to imports egg products from Netherlands. The only non-domestic egg supplier for food processors and bakeries considered safe by the USDA was Canada. Yet, egg shortage resulted in a jump in prices, so the federal government is looking for alternate solutions.
Imported egg products would be used in processed foods and bakeries, and states hope that imports would prevent prices from further rising. In Texas, a supermarket even put a limit to shell egg purchases.
Usually, the domestic supply is fully covered by U.S. producers. The country exports an extra 30 million dozen eggs every month to various countries, Canada and Mexico being the largest importers.
But the latest bird flu outbreak that swept Iowa, the nation’s major egg producer, and other Midwest countries led the U.S. into a genuine egg crisis.
Authorities reported that about 47 million birds were affected by the disease, while 35 million were hens that assured 80 percent of liquid egg production.
Liquid eggs are dried or frozen and sold to manufacturers that use them in processed foods such as mayo products or to bakeries which use them in pastry, cakes and other delicious products. But due to the bird flu outbreak a third of the liquid egg supply vanished in just a few weeks.
“Our members are not able to get their hands on enough eggs to continue their production. It’s very much a crisis for us right now,”
noted Cory Martin, from the American Bakers Association, a trade group which represents Linden’s Cookies, Pepperidge Farm, Krispy Kreme Doughnut and many more.
The trade group also announced that egg prices saw an increase of 200 percent over the course of one month, so major bakeries had to buy non-liquefied eggs and crack them individually in order not to halt production.
Until now, only Canada met federal standards to sell liquid eggs to the U.S. food producers, while five companies from the Netherlands were given the permission to export liquid, dried and frozen eggs to the U.S. in 1987, but their certifications expired.
The USDA recently announced that Dutch inspectors had “rigorously” verified the country’s egg products and reached the conclusion that Netherlands’ food safety system “continues to be equivalent to that of the U.S.”
Currently, seven countries were given the permission to sell shell eggs to the U.S. – the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Spain and France (in Europe), and Chile and Argentina (in Latin America).
Yet the bakers trade association remains pessimistic since U.S. egg producers announced that they would need a couple of years to reach the same levels of production before the recent egg crisis.
Image Source: Serious Eats