Americans may have to settle for chocolate eggs at Easter, as finding real eggs could be difficult. Along withConsumers in a bunker mentality due to the coronavirus pandemic have filled their shopping carts with eggs, breakfast and baked goods.
“There has been a shortage in a narrow window of explosive demand,” Brian Moscogiuri, director and analyst for eggs and egg products at urner Barry, a commodity market research firm, told CBS MoneyWatch. “It’s like before a big snowstorm when people aren’t sure if they can go out again, except that it happens at the national level.”
According to Nielsen, egg sales in the week of March 21 increased 85.7% yoy and 44% yoy. In the four-week period ending March 21, egg sales increased 29.2% year over year, the data company said.
Wholesale prices for a dozen large Midwest eggs – the benchmark for the egg industry – rose to a record $ 3.09 on Thursday from $ 1.03 earlier this month, said Urner Barry’s Moscogiuri.
“It has essentially tripled in the past three weeks as retailers saw four to six times the demand for normal volume over a very consolidated period,” said the analyst. “There are only a certain number of chickens that lay a certain number of eggs every day, so the supply is limited.”
The cost of egg suppliers is even higher than in 2015, when industry lost about 11% of its production because avian influenza killed tens of millions of laying hens, Moscogiuri said.
“We just received prices for new eggs about 10 minutes ago and it’s shocking,” said Avi Kaner, co-founder of Morton Williams, a chain of 16 supermarkets in the New York City metropolitan area, on Friday. “They raised prices from $ 2.65 to $ 3.06, so it’s up another 15% last week and last week’s prices have doubled from the previous week.”
As supplier prices rise, retailers can either pass the cost on to consumers, make a profit, or something in between.
“We obviously can’t double the price, so we’re going to go up a bit,” said Kaner, who explained that Morton Williams’ prices increased 14% as egg wholesale prices doubled.
The prices of other goods and products in demand have not risen in the same way, Kaner said. Imagine the public reaction to hand disinfectant manufacturers who decided to double their prices due to increasing demand, he explained.
Kaner, an avowed supporter of supply and demand, declined to object to egg suppliers “taking advantage of a national emergency at a time when the country should be working to help each other.”
For the coming vacation, egg decorations may have to be pushed into the background.
“It has proven likely that the traditional demand for shell egg Easter eggs, which is now just over a week away, will not materialize as many retailers do not issue newsletters and focus on cage-free and organic offerings, largely from that Brown mussels are poor candidates for Easter colors, “said the US Department of Agriculture’s weekly egg report released on Friday.
Retailers like Walmart have imposed restrictions on customers in the past few weeks for buying items such as eggs and paper products, milk, detergents, hand sanitizers, water, diapers, wipes, formulas, and baby food.
CBS News’ Irina Ivanova contributed to this report.