H-E-B grocery stores, including Central Market locations in Tarrant County, are limiting the amount of egg cartons each customer can buy to three because of a nationwide shortage of eggs resulting from an avian flu outbreak.
The limit applies to all sizes of cartons: a customer could buy three cartons of the largest amount of eggs, but no more. The same applies to smaller cartons as well, an H-E-B manager said.
In the Austin area, H-E-B informed customers with this sign near in its stores: “H-E-B customers are our top priority. To ensure the availability of eggs for all Texas families, eggs are not available for commercial sale. The purchase of eggs is limited to 3 cartons per customer.”
“Yes it does include Central Market,” said Dya Campos, a spokeswoman for Central Market, in an email. “The purpose of the limit is to deter commercial use and protect household consumers. Our in stock position is strong. The move is precautionary.”
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North Texas Kroger stores have not been affected by the egg shortage because it buys its eggs in Prosper, said spokesman Gary Huddleston.
“We have no supply problems,” he said. “We do know others have had supply problems.”
The local spokesperson with Albertson’s could not be reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.
More than 5 million hens have been destroyed after a bird flu outbreak in the Midwest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. More than 20 million chickens have been infected, with most in Iowa, the Department of Agriculture’s website shows.
Wholesale prices for eggs more than doubled in the past month to reach an all-time high on Tuesday, according to commodity researcher Urner Barry, which has been tracking the industry since 1858. U.S. consumers will probably pay $7.5 billion to $8 billion more to buy eggs, an increase of at least 75 percent from last year, Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a report on May 20.
Domestic egg production is expected to fall in 2015 for the first time since 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It will take 18 months to two years to replenish the country’s laying hens, according to Maro Ibarburu, an analyst at the Egg Industry Center in Ames, Iowa.
Staff writer Sandra Baker contributed to this report, which includes material from the Austin American-Statesman and Bloomberg News.