A scary bird flu outbreak is spiraling out of control all across the globe, killing dozens of millions of chickens and turkeys that were supposed to go to our food supply chains during the upcoming holiday season. Experts say the nightmarish pestilence is the worst epidemic of avian influenza ever recorded, and farmers are absolutely terrified by the severity of the situation. Things are escalating quickly, and in the U.S., supplies are getting so tight that consumers have seen egg prices shoot up nearly 40% in August, while the cost of turkey and poultry has been rising almost twice as fast as the official inflation rate. Shortages are expected in the coming weeks and months, and the animal death toll will continue to rise as the weather gets colder and conditions enable the spread of the virus. All this means that our food supply chains are in major trouble, and we’re about to see food prices reach unprecedented highs this fall.
While American farmers struggle to depopulate contaminated flocks, more cases are recorded in several parts of the planet, including in over 30 European countries. According to the Food Safety Authority website, the world is facing the largest epidemic of avian influenza in all history, with over 2,467 outbreaks erupting in Europe alone since the start of the year. Over 47.7 million birds have been culled by poultry facilities where cases of the bird flu have been confirmed in the continent.
What we’re witnessing in America right now is actually worse than what’s happening in Europe. Last month, the total death toll of birds in the U.S. reached a staggering 50 million. Authorities describe the surge as “unprecedented” in scope, breadth, and lethality. Local food producers say that the total number is likely bigger. The official numbers are a “vast undercount,” one Californian farmer said. And though authorities are mainly concerned about poultry farms, the epidemic has struck wild birds, too — from waterfowl to raptors and vultures.
In sum, adding Europe’s 47.7 million dead birds to America’s 50 million dead birds, the global food supply chain has lost a grand total of 97.7 million animals in the past 10 months. The flu is leaving a massive inventory hole in many grocery stores across the nation. Shortages are going to be truly catastrophic, but most people remain unaware of what’s currently going on. Meanwhile, prices continue to climb to sky-highs. The bird flu epidemic pushed the price of turkey hens to soar 30% higher than last year and 80% higher than before the pandemic, and it seems unlikely that will change before the holidays.
This Thanksgiving, turkey shortages are almost certain as grocers run out of the meat and can’t find new suppliers in the market. Many other everyday products that contain chicken and eggs will be harder to find in the weeks and months ahead, which will cause more product stockouts than during last year’s festivities. Poultry farmer, Mark Gordon, said that farmers are “terrified” about the severity of the situation. “We’re absolutely terrified of what’s going to happen when big numbers of birds are wiped out from the supply chain. We’re concerned it could make things a lot worse than it already is,” he stressed.
This is a slow-motion trainwreck that is playing out right before our eyes. A very dangerous development that could make this disaster far, far worse is if the bird flu mutates into a form that can spread easily among humans. We can only hope that this doesn’t happen any time soon. But the truth is that pestilences are becoming increasingly more common all over the world, and many more dangerous and unexpected threats can arise at any moment.
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