Should startups go all in or wait?
Price parity with traditional foods are one of the biggest challenges for alternative protein startups. However, the bird flu, a shortage of free-range eggs and a subsequent price hike in late 2022 appear to be an “in” for alternative egg companies to show they can compete.
Egg prices rose from a few dollars, depending on geography, to more than $5 a dozen in December bird flu spread across all 50 stateskilling millions of chickens and turkeys, and making shoppers rethink pantry buying and future meal plans. New dates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that egg prices increased 8.5% between December and January, while prices increased 70% year over year.
There’s good news: Bird flu cases fell by less than 500,000 in total poultry casualties compared to more than 5 million in December, according to data from the US Department of Agriculture. However, Rosemary Sifford, the USDA’s chief veterinarian, told me The Wall Street Journal that this may be short-lived. She said when wild birds migrate in the spring, the virus is likely to resurface.
While this may seem like an opportunity, I’ve spoken with some industry startups and investors to see if alternative egg companies can and should take advantage and race to bring their product to market or expand their customer base.