“Eggs are really flying off the shelves right now,” said Brian Moscogiuri, director and egg market analyst, Urner Barry. The wholesale egg market now sits over $2 per dozen, he said on an Urner Barry podcast on LinkedIn, on March 18. He reported that prices for wholesale eggs had increased by over 100% in the last few weeks.
“All eggs, all shapes, all sizes, even specialty eggs that sell for higher prices are moving through,” Moscogiuri said. Some stores that were only offering specialty eggs have restocked with cage-produced eggs. “The wholesale market is extremely competitive. We have seen inventories drop 10% per week for the last three weeks,” he said.
Easter is April 19, 2020, and Moscogiuri said that demand would typically increase now, and egg producers would typically be ramping up production to meet this holiday demand. But the U.S. egg industry is coming off what has been a low-price period for the last 18 months caused by a ramp up in cage-free egg production without a corresponding decrease in cage-produced eggs.
Moscogiuri said that demand for egg products hasn’t increased along with shell egg demand, because the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the closing of many restaurants for on-sight dining, the closing of schools and reduction in travel.
Moscogiuri characterized the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. as an “unprecedented situation.” He explained: “Even people who lived through avian influenza (the U.S. outbreak of 2015). They have never seen markets like this. They have never seen demand like this. With AI (avian influenza) it was a supply side issue; it took time. This is like a light switch is turned on and all the sudden the entire nation is buying staple goods and eggs.”
It is uncertain what consumer behavior will be in the coming weeks, and it is possible demand for eggs will decrease as consumers who increased their regular purchase amounts while stocking eat through their increased in-home inventory.
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