CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Egg prices becoming increasingly expensive for many restaurants in the region, making them question whether their menu prices should come up.

USDA says in the final week of December 2022 egg inventories in the U.S. were 29 percent lower than at the beginning of that year. Before January, 43 million egg-laying hens were lost to the bird flu.

Reoccurrences of the outbreak have made it difficult for egg inventories to replenish. Especially in December when the industry was seasonally adjusting egg-laying flocks. With little supply and high demand, prices became over 210 percent higher.

22News spoke to restaurants where eggs are their main product and how this affects them.

“We go through like 2,000 to 2,500 eggs a week, so it’s been going really out of control,” said Barbara Lewko, owner of Sunny Side Up Breakfast and Lunch in West Springfield. She used to pay three cents for an egg, but now she pays $0.47 cents.

Other restaurants are seeing a similar increase. Lucky Strike in Chicopee is paying $1,275 each week on eggs. With this amount, will menu prices change?

“In the last six months, the prices have continued to rise and what we have done is posted that our menus are not always accurate because sometimes we have to raise them just to break even on those items,” said Valerie Thomas, owner of Lucky Strike in Chicopee. The National Restaurant Association says between December 2021 and December 2022, full-service restaurant menu prices rose 8.2%.

However, restaurants are staying cautious about not raising prices too much. One restaurant has been buying eggs locally to help compensate. “We have to go to where the best prices are for us to be able to stay open,” said Orla Mitchell, owner of Mrs. Mitchell’s Kitchen Inc. in Holyoke.

It could take several months until egg inventories go back to normal, but may not return to the original cost with inflation still having an impact.