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What is the Avian Flu's Impact on the Egg Industry?

By George Nielsen, March 4, 2022

Tags: Food Safety, Food ERP, egg producer

The Avian flu has affected the food industry in many different ways since experts discovered the outbreak earlier this month. There are currently millions of chickens in at least 17 states that are being destroyed to suppress the deadly and dangerous strain of the Avian flu. 

While the flu poses minimal risk to humans, the effects of the Avian flu are felt in other ways. For example, the effects are felt at the grocery store in the dairy aisle, where the price of eggs has risen sharply. The most recent outbreak was in 2014, and experts predict that this outbreak will not be as severe since the mitigation efforts have already begun. 

In this article, we will cover what the Avian flu is, its impact on the egg industry, and how you can use ERP food traceability capabilities to your advantage.

What is the Avian flu?

The Avian flu occurs naturally among birds and is caused by influenza viruses similar to the ones that humans get infected with. However, the strains of bird flu rarely transmit to humans, and we will likely never feel their effects directly. Avian flu is highly pathogenic and deadly to domestic animals like chickens, which is where we see the most significant impact.

The Avian flu was first discovered in 1997 in Hong Kong and later spread throughout the world through the transportation and trafficking of chickens and other fowl. Unfortunately, the only way to stop the spread of the virus is by killing the infected birds, which is why over 1.5 million chickens were slaughtered to contain the flu outbreak in 1997. 

Experts blame the current spread of the virus on birds that are migrating and flying over other flocks where their droppings and deposited and then spread amongst other birds. This strain also looks to be the same strain responsible for similar outbreaks in Europe and Asia last year.

The Avian flu’s impact on the global supply chain

The current outbreak of the Avian flu is the worst that we’ve seen since 2014, where there were over 50 million birds that were killed during that time. Luckily we most likely will not reach that number this time. However in Nebraska, a commercial chicken farm recently said they plan to eliminate over 570,000 chickens after a major outbreak in the flock was detected.

Since chicken and other birds that are impacted by the flu outbreak supply many different products to humans, there will be a significant impact on the global supply chain, likely causing price increases on items like ground meat, bacon, and eggs.

What is the avian flu's impact on the egg industry?

Chicken and other egg-laying birds are being destroyed en masse, and the eggs that they lay won’t be able to be consumed by humans. Consumers can no longer buy free-range eggs because the hens have been kept inside for so long due to the flu outbreak. The eggs will be labeled “barn eggs” because farmers are forced to keep the birds inside to avoid exposure to other infected birds.

Will egg prices increase?

The outbreak in 2015 cost the food industry over $1.5 billion. During this time, eggs at the grocery store doubled in price. Coupled with rising inflation rates worldwide, you can expect to see egg prices increase sharply in the near future. 

Experts say that, even with the proactive efforts in containing influenza, the number of birds killed could be in the same range as in 2014 and the prices of eggs at the grocery store will likely be comparable to the prices we saw in 2014.

How can traceability help to contain outbreaks?

Traceability allows food producers to keep track of specific lot numbers and products in the supply chain. This traceability can be compromised if it’s not organized in a reliable and centralized company ERP system. 

Having an ERP system with advanced traceability capabilities will provide your business with many benefits, such as mitigated risk in recalls, more accessible reporting capabilities, and enhanced trust from the public. It’s important to consistently review your traceability capabilities to ensure that you and your company get the most out of your ERP system.

Investing in innovation by upgrading your equipment can be a great way to prevent or contain possible outbreaks. These innovations can be expensive but will save the company money if any outbreaks were to occur.

Boost your food and beverage industry business' traceability with Inecta

Inecta is reimagining the food production and distribution process by providing you with a single hub to manage food and beverage operations in a new and innovative way. We help you protect your brand from instances of outbreaks with lot tracing technology to identify situations in which ingredients or products are affected by an outside source.

Our all-in-one ERP system enhances everything from production planning, consumer assurance, compliance & quality, and cost control. Real-time tracking from a single hub and advanced reporting capabilities make Inecta a leader in the ERP solution in the food industry.

For more information and to schedule your free demo, contact us at 1-800-632-0573 or visit us online at Inecta.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

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