SAN DIEGO — If you’ve struggled to find eggs at the store lately, you’re not the only one.
With a U.S. egg shortage caused by a record number of bird flu outbreaks, grocery stores are finding it harder to keep eggs in stock and on the shelves.
CBS 8’s Brian White visited a local egg farm in Lakeside that is seeing a big increase in customers.
“Gotta get some fresh ones,” said Hilliker’s Ranch customer, Jeff Rideout.
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else,” said another customer while placing two dozen eggs into his car.
Hillicker’s Ranch Fresh Eggs saw a steady stream of cars pulling up as customers came and went Thursday, all of them looking to buy the freshest eggs around.
“Because they’re fresh, that’s why,” said long-time customer, Deanna McKenzie. “For a while, I had my own chickens and then when I didn’t have my own chickens anymore, I come here to get fresh eggs.”
For decades, customers have been buying eggs at Hillicker’s, which has been located in Lakeside since the 1950’s. But for some people, egg shortages at local grocery stores have led them here.
“You know, this is my first time,” said Santee resident, Jeff Ridout. “Eggs are short in the store right now and overly priced. Costco’s totally out. They haven’t had eggs since Thanksgiving really, or if they do, they go so fast, I never see them.”
CBS 8 checked the Costco in Santee Thursday and while they did have eggs in stock, a worker told us the store has been selling out every day, so it can be hit-or-miss.
At Hilliker’s Ranch, owner Frank Hilliker said production has been steady for their 30,000 chickens.
“They’re laying some mediums and smalls, and they’re really pretty and they’re really good,” said Hilliker while holding a few fresh, brown eggs.
According to the USDA, more than 300 commercial flocks and more than 400 backyard flocks have been affected by highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus this year, affecting more than 57 million birds, including chickens.
“When you take a whole bunch of eggs off the market and we’re in the baking time, you know, where we’re using more eggs, it’s just the perfect storm,” said Hillicker. “Fuel’s gone up forty or fifty percent, our packaging has doubled, our chicken feed has tripled, so yeah, things are going to be more, and eggs cost more.”
Experts say it may take a few months to get production back to normal. In the meantime, it can be advantageous to check in with grocery stores about their restocking schedules, so shoppers can find those eggs before they sell out.
WATCH RELATED: Bird flu case confirmed in San Diego; swans and birds dying near Lake San Marcos (Oct. 2022).