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Despite egg shortage, McDonald's, others roll out yolked breakfast options

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/File

(Read caption) The H5N2 bird flu has caused the US's egg supply to decrease by 12 percent. Despite the shortage, McDonald's and other restaurants are still dishing out egg-packed breakfast options for customers.

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Despite the avian-flu-related egg shortage with which supermarkets and restaurants are dealing, McDonald’s is trying a new take on a core breakfast item. The 350-calorie Bacon & White Cheddar McMuffin is on menus in Chicago, priced at $2.99 alone or $3.50 with a small coffee. Radio ads support it.

Lest anyone howl about the timing of McDonald’s test, keep in mind that Jack in the Box last week introduced a Steak & Egg Burrito. Burger King has been testing a Fully Loaded Croissan’wich. Just as egg prices were skyrocketing in April, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s introduced the Mile High Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit. The competition for breakfast sales continues unabated, even if egg supplies threaten to dwindle.

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According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “The H5N2 bird flu has claimed more than 36 million layer hens, almost all of them in the Upper Midwest. The loss equals about 12% of the nation’s egg-laying capacity.”

For the major chains, supply is the problem more than price increases since the largest chains usually have commodity prices locked in. And even if supplies tighten more, the biggest clients get what’s available. In a June 1 statement, McDonald’s, said, “We do not anticipate an impact to our ability to supply eggs to our restaurants and serve our customers.”

“We don’t know why other restaurants haven’t been affected by this shortage yet, but it sure has affected us,” 770-store Whataburger said on its Facebook page. “Our primary egg supplier was one of the hardest hit by this shortage.” As a result it has reduced breakfast hours to 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays but is keeping the usual 11 a.m. close on weekends. For now. Whataburger points out that the shortage has an impact on any item that includes eggs, such as pancakes and cinnamon rolls.