SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — American breakfast has its quintessential staples. People start their mornings with foods like bacon, pancakes, and eggs. But, with the rise in the price of eggs, it’s now more costly to prepare breakfast.
At Stella’s Diner on Wolf Street in Syracuse, the owner said that egg prices have increased so much that he has no other option but to pass the cost onto customers.
“We’re trying to keep it as low as we can, to keep it affordable — but we have to raise the pricing,” Jacob Martin, owner and operator of Stella’s, said.
For some restaurants, especially those that specialize in breakfast food, wholesale price increases for eggs have led to price bumps on the menu. It’s a symptom of a greater problem. Food costs have risen significantly — an average of 10.1% over the past year, driving many people to seek help when it comes to feeding themselves and their families.
Egg prices rose from about $1.93 per dozen on average in January 2022 to $4.82 per dozen last January, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Locally, some egg prices in grocery stores are higher than the national average.
- At the Tops Friendly Markets in Clay, the store brand of a dozen eggs currently costs $3.49. The Eggland’s Best brand currently costs $5.39.
- Walmart in East Syracuse is currently selling a dozen of its store brand eggs for $3.46.
- At Wegmans on James Street in Syracuse, the store brand of a dozen eggs will run you $3.49, with Eggland’s Best also at that price.
The increase in egg prices can be attributed to an avian flu that has wiped out about 43 million egg-laying hens. Martin says he also believes workforce issues in factories and farms are contributing to the rise in prices, and he said it is also delaying delivery of some products.
“Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with labor,” he said. “Things like our jelly packets, we couldn’t get for like over a month, and we go through a lot of jelly. And it’s because they couldn’t get a seal for the cups.”
On Syracuse’s Southwest side, the Salvation Army of Syracuse’s Food Pantry has seen increased necessity from a community already in need. Syracuse’s poverty rate is nearly triple the national average. Visitors to the pantry are not just looking for eggs, but a myriad of other food items.
“So in the month of January, we did 30 more households than we did in December,” Pam Alderman, supervisor of the pantry, said. “December is usually a busy month with a holiday season.”
Alderman said the rising demand has led to depleted shelves. The pantry is expecting a new delivery this week. Alderman said that donations come from Aldi, Tops, Target, and Panera Bread. Egg deliveries, however, do not come every time a shipment arrives. She said rising food prices, along with additional supplements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ending in March, will drive more people to a food pantry that dished out thousands of meals last year.
Went over to the City's southwest to speak to Pam Alderman from the Salvation Army Food Pantry. She says she's seen MORE demand in January than in December. pic.twitter.com/h3ROeN5Fip
— Chilekasi Adele (@ChilekasiAdele) February 13, 2023
“We’re serving a lot more people right now than we have in the past year,” she said. “We did something with 54,000 meals last year.”
At Stella’s, Martin’s outlook on whether egg prices will return to normal soon is uncertain.
While he said prices in the last few weeks have begun to drop, they are still much higher than they were a year ago. Martin understands the struggles to feed growing children as well — the operator has two boys. Outside of just eggs, he said he knows price increases are coming when he goes to shop for his family based on his experience buying wholesale.
“I see it all the time working in a restaurant, “ he said. “I expect it when I go to the grocery store and I just try to find whatever savings I can. I won’t go for the name brand — I will go for the store brand, just to try and save money here and there wherever I can.”