Business/Economy

A real scramble: Alaska suffers an egg shortage

Egg Shortage

In Alaska, eggs are in short supply.

Oakdell, a major egg supplier in Washington for retailers in the Pacific Northwest, including Alaska, is in the midst of culling over a million chickens because of a bird flu outbreak, said Kyle Hill, president of the Alaska Commercial Company, which has 35 AC stores across rural Alaska.

The outbreak ultimately led to supply shortage issues across urban and rural Alaska, and the greater Northwest, Hill said. He said retailers are attempting to find other suppliers that can produce as many eggs. But that’s challenging, since products like eggs are usually sourced regionally.

“It’s not typical for Alaska to source eggs from California or from the Midwest,” Hill said.

Bird flu has been interfering with egg supply nationwide since March of 2022, according to Tiffany Sanders, a corporate affairs manager with Fred Meyer. The company is limiting egg purchases to two cartons per customer.

The Three Bears Alaska grocery store chain, with locations in communities across the road system, is buying larger packs of eggs and then breaking them down into dozens, said Jim Kolb, the company’s marketing director.

“We have big holes right now where eggs would go,” Kolb said. “And we’re trying to fill it in as best we can, but it is what it is.”

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In Anchorage on Friday afternoon, at three Midtown grocery stores, egg supply varied. At Carrs on the Seward Highway at Benson Boulevard, things were looking all right, with a decent supply of brown and white eggs. At Fred Meyer across the road, shelves were nearly bare, with just a few cartons left. Similarly, at the Midtown Walmart, egg cartons were sparse. A sign there asked customers to limit their purchases to just one.

Egg Shortage

In Alaska, goods including groceries primarily arrive via ship at the port in Anchorage. Recently, two ships instead of four have been traveling north each week, but that isn’t what’s causing the egg shortage, said Jim Jager, director of business continuity and external affairs at the Port of Alaska.

Recent weather delays and fewer ships — both common this time of year — may have made eggs and other supplies arrive a day late, but “the eggs are not getting to the dock in Tacoma,” Jager said.

[Anchorage’s average home price rose to a record $456K, but higher interest rates are starting to cool the market]

Frieda Koper, owner of the Flying Dutchman Pastry Shop in Anchorage, has become a bit of a supply hoarder since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means she hasn’t been hit too hard by the egg shortage so far.

“Everything is a supply problem,” Koper said.

Koper noticed Costco began limiting loose eggs to two packs per customer weeks ago, so she has been picking up flats at other stores and never let their supply dwindle.

“You can’t let your guard down on anything,” she said.

They also keep liquid eggs around, which haven’t been in short supply. So far, they’ve been able to stretch their eggs pretty well. But recently, she opted to skip making quiches, just to stretch things a bit further. Koper said she might be more comfortable making quiches on Saturday, after she heard Costco had eggs.

Hill, with AC, said he’s happy to have secured a supply of eggs on track to ship out of Tacoma on Saturday evening, on a Matson container ship. It’s set to arrive Tuesday and the grocery chain will fly them out.

But he said he expects the overall shortage to last some two to four months more.

“(It) is a tough time of year to have this happen, because Easter is right around the corner, and so every retailer is doing what they can,” Hill said. “But this is not going to be a one-week or two-week fix.”

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Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow is a general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Oregon and spent the summer of 2019 as a reporting intern on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post. Contact her at mkrakow@adn.com.

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