Shortage of supply creates obstacles for local food businesses

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — With Easter and Passover just around the corner, many food businesses in metro Detroit are looking forward to the busy season. But this year, many restaurants and bakeries are in a bit of a pickle. They are either facing a spike in the prices of certain ingredients or a shortage of supply.

So, does this mean that during next week’s holidays, people will have to pay more or settle for less?

Culinary Combo Bakery in Southfield is a successful business run by mother-daughter duo, Jodi Polk and Jessica Barris. But this holiday season is proving to be a challenge; their orders for Easter and Passover are blocked.

“Last month it was cream cheese. This week and last week I’ve been rejected for getting cases of butter and then that’s not even counting the rising price of eggs,” Polk said.

Most dairy is hit by supply chain issues and the folks at Holiday Market say it’s getting better, but eggs have a whole different story.

“A crate of eggs used to cost between $17 and $19 for a crate. Today I paid $42.50,” Polk said.

According to the Midwest Consumer Price Index, prices for poultry and eggs, among others, are up 1.2% since February.

Data from Nielsen IQ Retail Measure also shows that currently a dozen eggs cost an average of $2.25, 15% more than the same time last year when it was $1. $.96.

Polk eats over 180 eggs a day, which means his cost is increasing.

In her 30 years in the business, Polk said she had never seen anything like it before.

Emily Mertz of the American Egg Board says the prices for eggs as well as meat, dairy and corn are all set in the commodity market, which is based on supply and demand.

“There’s a lot of cost escalation in the market right now — feed costs are up, packaging costs are up, and transportation costs are up,” Mertz said.

To top it off, some farmers are also affected by bird flu.

“We are seeing ladle shortages in areas affected by avian flu, but the farms that have been affected represent approximately 4% of the total flock size of laying hens in the United States,” Mertz said.

According to michigangrown.orgMichigan is the seventh-largest egg-producing state in the country.

7 Action News has contacted some poultry farms and, either verbally or by email, they have confirmed that so far their facilities have not been contaminated with bird flu.

Dr. Leanord Johnson of Ascension St. John’s Hospital says that as long as meat and poultry are properly cooked, there is no risk.

“Most of the risk to humans – because it is a very rare disease in humans – is mainly in people who keep chickens and livestock, where there is an infected chicken. The infection will come of their feces,” Johnson said.

But the bad news for business owners like Polk: raising the prices of their baked goods isn’t an option.

“We already published a Passover menu a month ago. So I can’t increase, and I won’t compromise on quality. I just have to swallow it this year and hope people support us through this,” Polk said, adding that his business would take a hit.

Polk is concerned that prices will rise further, so she buys ingredients in bulk and recommends similar companies do the same if they can.

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