UPDATE 1-U.S. bird flu causes egg shortage, emergency measures
* Some food companies scout for egg supplies abroad
* About 30 pct of egg supply used by U.S. bakeries impacted
* Dutch, French companies seeking U.S. approval to export eggs (Adds details about push to import eggs, background on bird flu)
By P.J. Huffstutter and Bill Berkrot
CHICAGO/NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - As a virulent avian influenza outbreak continues to spread across the Midwestern United States, some egg-dependent companies are contemplating drastic steps - importing eggs from overseas or looking to egg alternatives.
A spokeswoman for Archer Daniels Midland Co said that as egg supplies tighten and prices rise, the food processing and commodities company has received numerous inquiries from manufacturers about the plant-based egg substitutes it makes.
With a strong dollar bolstering the buying power of U.S. importers, some companies are scouting for egg supplies abroad.
"The U.S. has never imported any significant amount of eggs, because we've always been a very low-cost producer," said Tom Elam of FarmEcon, an agricultural consulting company. "Now, that's no longer the case."
The United States is grappling with its biggest outbreak of bird flu on record, which has led to the culling of 40 million birds. The virus has been confirmed on commercial farms and backyard flocks in 16 U.S. states and in Canada. Continued...