Why have egg prices skyrocketed during the Coronavirus pandemic?

As the coronavirus global pandemic began to drastically change life in the United States in early 2020, many shoppers saw unexpected fluctuations in price for basic household items and kitchen staples like eggs. This article explores Pete and Gerry's initial response to the early days of COVID-19 and the challenges reflected in the egg aisle. Find updates about the current state of egg prices on our blog here.

Words by: Jesse Laflamme

“We have not raised our prices in response to the COVID-19 crisis.” -Jesse Laflamme, Former Chief Executive Farmer, March 2020.

The amount and frequency of new and often frightening things we're all experiencing during the worst pandemic of our lifetimes has been a shock to the system. From the inability to find basic cleaning supplies or paper products at the store to (physically) being with friends or family, calling this situation overwhelming is an understatement. Many of us can no longer attend our jobs in person (nor rest assured that we have one); it's debilitating to say the least. On top of that, it's exhausting to hear and think about it all—but with information coming at us from every angle, it's impossible to avoid doing so.

Making a trip to the store and navigating other shoppers and empty shelves all in the name of feeding your family is stressful enough, but if you've been confronted with suddenly higher prices on the products you usually reach for, you may be (understandably) angry, frustrated, and confused about who or what is responsible for these stark changes to the cost of everyday necessities. As the Chief Executive Farmer and son of the founders of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, I cannot speak to all those necessities that have been affected, but I can address our eggs and the changing prices you may have seen on their shelves. And I'd like to do so, because your trust is important to me personally.

Why are egg prices so high during COVID-19?

Consumer demand for eggs has soared recently as more people are spending mealtimes at home with an entire family to feed. Eggs are a great solution for that. They're (relatively) inexpensive, a fantastic source of protein, and endlessly versatile in the kitchen. Any increase in demand for a product will almost inevitably lead to higher prices. Many of us have seen this principle at play in both directions, such as at the gas pump or when shopping for airfare. In the short run, supply of product is usually fixed–you can’t just make more (or less)–so prices rise to prevent the supply from disappearing too quickly or altogether. This is as true for toilet paper as it is for eggs.

Has Pete and Gerry's raised egg prices?

However, we want our loyal customers to know that here at Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, we have chosen not to raise our prices in response to the COVID-19 crisis: Not a single penny. So why the higher prices for our eggs (and many other egg brands)? The answer is slightly more in-depth than you might anticipate, so stick with me.

Who determines egg prices?

As egg farmers, we don't set the prices that grocers charge you, the consumer. We sell our eggs to retailers (at a price that has not changed) and they, in turn, decide what to charge above that price in order to cover their operating costs. They also buy lots of other eggs besides ours. The majority of those (over 75%, in fact) are “commodity” eggs for their store brands, and are so-called because they're neither free range nor organic. These eggs come from factory-style farms, and a single company or farm cannot set the price for them. Instead, it’s set by a commodity price index similar to wheat or milk (called Urner Berry). That price, following the normal laws of supply and demand, has skyrocketed during the crisis. That means grocers must increase the price on those eggs at shelf just to cover their costs. They don’t have to raise the prices on Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs (since that cost to them has not increased), but they sometimes do so anyway in order to match the price increase across the entire egg aisle. This maintains a premium between our eggs and their store brand eggs. Grocers are also experiencing extraordinary labor and operating cost increases during the crisis, and they are trying to cover those as best they can.

Please know that Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs is not profiting from this crisis. In fact, we're working as hard as we can to increase our production while simultaneously ensuring the safety of our farmers and the hard-working folks at our washing and packing facilities. Perhaps most importantly, we're doing this without raising prices or cutting costs (by laying off workers or the like).

We're hopeful that these challenging and difficult experiences will pass soon and that we see a return to normalcy in the egg aisle and in our daily lives. If you have further questions, please let us know in the comments below.

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Pamela Pheasant

May 09, 2020

Thank you for being one of the things I can depend on. Love your eggs!! Stay safe Stay well Stay in business- please!!!

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[email protected]

May 11, 2020

Thank you for those kind words, Pamela! We are so grateful to be able to continue providing eggs to our customers during these times. We can't thank you enough for your continued support. Take care and please know that we appreciate you.

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