By Sarah Begley
June 11, 2015

[This article consists of 6 illustrations. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

In a typical month, the U.S. produces enough eggs to meet domestic demand and export more than 15 Million dozen eggs to countries such as Canada and Mexico.

This cut the amount of eggs available to bakeries and other manufacturers by roughly a third, upping egg-product-buying costs by At least 200%.

Regular shoppers also saw whole-egg carton Prices jump 120%, prompting some to choose organic or cage-free options. (Those birds weren’t as hard hit by bird flu.)

But in early spring, the H5N2 virus (a.k.a. bird flu) began to spread through Midwestern farms, leaving some 47 Million birds dead or dying.

Among those affected were 33 Million egg-laying hens, which accounted for 80% of the eggs used in processed foods like mayonnaise and pancake mix.

Experts say the bird-flu virus is likely to die off in the Midwest once temperatures remain Consistently in the 80s.

–SARAH BEGLEY

Contact us at editors@time.com.

This appears in the June 22, 2015 issue of TIME.

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