By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

(CNN) — Americans are stockpiling eggs during the coronavirus crisis as they cook more meals at home. That’s leading to supply shortages and a spike in prices at some supermarkets.

Egg sales increased 44% for the week ending on March 14 compared with a year ago, according to the most recent Nielsen data. Walmart and other big grocers have implemented limits in recent days on purchases of eggs, cleaning supplies and other products that are in high demand from customers.

“Consumers are panic shopping and, much like we see ahead of a snow storm, they are purchasing staple items (milk, bread, toilet paper, and eggs). Except obviously this is on a national scale and for a much longer period of time,” said Brian Moscogiuri, director and egg analyst at Urner Barry, a commodity market research firm.

Retailers are ordering up to six times their normal egg volumes and have depleted the supply that producers were beginning to build for Easter, he said. “Buyers have paid huge premiums to secure loads.”

Wholesale egg prices have risen 180% since the beginning of March, according to Urner Barry, which publishes a daily benchmark for the industry.

“Wholesale prices for shell eggs rose precipitously through the week,” the Department of Agriculture said in its weekly report Friday. Companies were struggling to “maintain sufficient stocks to meet a heightened level of consumer demand.”

Grocery Outlet President Robert Sheedy noted price inflation on eggs during a call with analysts on Tuesday.

When suppliers’ prices rise, grocers are faced with two options: Pass off the cost to consumers or take the hit to profit. They are doing both.

“Due to a limited supply and higher than usual demand, our suppliers have increased their prices on eggs,” a sign posted at Stop & Shop in Boston said. “As a result, you may see higher prices starting Saturday, March 21, as well as potential interruptions in supply.”

Dennis Curtin, a spokesperson for Weis Markets in the northeast, said the grocer has taken “limited pricing action so far.” Suppliers have notified the company that egg prices have increased.

Egg prices have increased by 14% at Morton Williams stores in New York. The company is frustrated that it’s paying double for eggs from its suppliers during a crisis.

“It is unconscionable that the egg industry has doubled prices because of increased demand. It is hitting low-income New Yorkers the hardest, as so many have lost their jobs working in restaurants and hotels,” said Avi Kaner, a spokesperson for Morton Williams.

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Comments (26)
  1. Hans Delbrucke says:

    It doesn’t make a lot of sense that there is an egg shortage due to more people cooking at home. When the restaurants are closed, don’t the eggs go to supermarkets instead of to restaurants? seems like another misinformation from the media.

    1. Makes a LOT of sense, Hans. Eggs are the easiest tolerated/digested protein available for quick fix and hot nutrition. PLUS homemade eggnog is a SECOND high protein source for those with digestive issues, not just economic budgetary constraints in time of job layoffs.

      Think bigger. The point the story is NOT making is that most of the eggs in the grocers cases are over 6 months old, and have been in cold storage.

      When viewed in the light of decimating in 2 or 3 weeks, SIX MONTHS of refrigerated stored eggs in the US supply chain of grocers, it takes on even more alarming price hike projections for the short and intermediate term.

      Every egg that is fresh represents a possibility of a chick to be born, which can lay more eggs if it is a pullet.

      So, cold storage doesn’t help rebuild the chicken population. And the BIGGGGGEST consumer of LIVE chickens at very young ages is CAMPBELLS’ Soup.

      1. Jeremy says:

        Are you suggesting that every fresh egg that is put into the consumer egg system had a chance of becoming a chicken? If so, that’s flat out wrong. The eggs we eat are unfertilized eggs so we’re not hindering the egg laying population by any means when we eat those eggs.

      2. Jeremy says:

        You know it’s getting crazy out there when you can’t even find the organic and/or free range eggs.

      3. Jack says:

        Eggs are good for 3 to 5 weeks after hatching. Its not true they can be in cold storage for 6 months. The other poster was right. We should have about the same amount of eggs out there. Most restaurants are closed, doing take out only. Big Egg, or Big Dairy is just trying to cash in. There is no shortage.

    2. Clh says:

      Hans
      Lot of grade B eggs go to restaurants. Grade A for consumer sales. Not every egg is Grade A. It is good for me I have hens and sell eggs.

    3. derek ward says:

      Restaurants don’t use as many eggs as you might think and use even fewer shell eggs. When you order scrambled eggs or an omelette, you might be getting a pre-cooked and frozen slab of egg or a liquid based egg product that is ladled onto the griddle.

    4. Jason says:

      That’s not how it works. They don’t necessarily buy the same type of egg that retailers buy for resale. A 2K pound tote of liquid egg may be used by a (now closed) bakery where states mandate what type of egg, weight, living environment the bird was raised in, etc.

  2. Admiral Barca says:

    “It is unconscionable that the egg industry has doubled prices because of increased demand. ”
    Stupidist comment of the day.

    1. Paul says:

      Eggs always trade at market prices. They go up, they go down. There is no one manipulating the prices.

  3. Adelheid says:

    I wish more people could live in rural areas and have their own laying hens. I believe many heads have come out of the sand in the last few weeks. I am thinking about locking my coop every nite. It’s just a matter of time before there are animal thefts.

  4. SharonJones says:

    Just before the coronavirus outbreak, egg prices hit rock bottom in my local grocery stores. I think I was paying nearly $1 less a dozen than I paid 10 years ago. I was wondering how these chicken farmers were surviving. But even in this coronavirus crisis, chickens are laying the same number of eggs a day – not more, not less. Honestly, I wonder if some people understand how nature works. (Now, do toilet paper.)

  5. biglouie15 says:

    Egg life in refrigerator is about 66 days, hard boiled eggs last about 7 days. So you aren’t buying something like TP that has an unlimited shelf life.

  6. Mike Arvand says:

    good time to find your local growers. those little roadside stands are about to be gold mines.

  7. Davo says:

    Had to buy $5 cage free Brown eggs laid by liberated chickens with Women’s Studies degrees from Ivy League universities instead of my regular $1.59 old White guy eggs, because of hoarding. The $5 eggs taste just like $1.59 eggs. What a rip off.

    1. derek ward says:

      I faced the same choice last week. My thought was, at that price, eggs are no longer a good, inexpensive source of protein. At that price, meats and cheese options become price competitive, unless you really just want some eggs. So the market pricing worked. I passed up on those eggs as I still had a doze or so at home and I was confident I could find a better price this week.

    2. lifeboatpres says:

      “The $5 eggs taste just like $1.59 eggs.” Such eggs are no better for you but they are better for the chicken as the chicken has a better life. I personally have always got such eggs as I like animals to have good lives. Pasture-raised is the category that gives chickens the best lives. Pastured-raised > free-range > cage-free > caged. Chickens are generally treated much worse than cows, this should change.

  8. W. Llewellyn says:

    EGGS? Who do you suppose the first person was who said, “Hey, let’s eat the next thing that comes out of that chicken’s butt”.

  9. YesHemp Cbd says:

    With so many things that blow out here in California, like Nancy Pelosi, eggs are in plenty in San Joaquin Valley.

  10. exexpat11 says:

    Give it a few weeks. Eggs are the new Toilet Paper. Boycott the eggs and they’ll return to normal prices.

  11. Al Court says:

    I read that you can coat eggs with oil to make them keep longer. Haven’t tried yet tho.

  12. matismf says:

    I realize this is a foreign thought to the hive dwellers, but chickens continue to produce the same amount of eggs that they would be making WITHOUT the China virus!

  13. ROBERT BENJAMIN says:

    Do the words “PRICE GOUGING” mean anything to you? It is my fervent hope that when all is said and done, industries like egg companies are held responsible. Now is NOT the time to make $$$$ off inflated prices.

  14. The Biden Campaign (@SleepyJoe30330) suggests this tip as an egg substitute. Mix two tablespoons of corn starch with three tablespoons of water. Add one orange-colored pingpong ball. Blend, then pour into plastic container once used for L’Eggs ladies’ hosiery, or Silly Putty. (Be sure the plastic shells are empty. Wash with soapy water, rinse, then dry.) Crack open to fry; leave sealed if soft- or hard-boiling. Caveat: Remove the pingpong ball before eating. Bonus Tip: If wifey finds a leopard-skin print g-string thong in your glove box, explain that it is a “field expedient substitute for an N95 surgical mask.” This is 100% persuasive for blondes, but if her carpet does not match the drapes, you may be in deep dodo.Epstein didn’t kill himself.

  15. Jonathan Galt says:

    This is silly – it is a temporary bump because people panicked and bought more eggs than usual. It will return to normal quickly.

  16. Allen Heindel says:

    Eggs and Toilet Paper? Sounds more like teens stocking up for Halloween pranks!

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