COVID-19 and your eggs: an update from us

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Farm News

Why Are Eggs Getting So Expensive?

Words by: Family Farm Team

We keep this blog post updated as the reasons behind rising egg prices change with the times. The latest information is placed at the top and older news remains below. If you have any questions, please share them with us in the comments.

2020 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The 2019-2020 coronavirus global pandemic began to drastically change life in the United States in early 2020. With these changes came unexpected fluctuations in prices for basic household necessities, including eggs. This blog post explains the reasoning in more detail, but the basics are rewritten here for your ease.

Factory farms and the commodity price index

Over 80% of eggs in the United States are produced in a factory "farm" setting – cages, no outside time, artificial light...the stuff of very dark Netflix documentaries. These are called commodity eggs, and they're the ones that end up in "store brand" cartons, priced around a dollar a dozen (depending on the time of year and year itself, of course). No single farm sets the price for these eggs; they're priced according to a commodity index similar to wheat or milk (it's called Urner Barry if you feel inclined to Google).

As the virus spread throughout the country, people transitioned to a homebound lifestyle, and as households found themselves in increasingly tight financial situations, more and more people turned to eggs. It's easy to see why: eggs are relatively inexpensive, healthy, easy to prepare, keep well, and are a popular food item at any hour of the day. Demand skyrocketed.

And as you remember from your basic Economics lessons, this heightened demand caused the price index to increase as well. Retailers purchasing these commodity eggs were spending more, and therefore had to charge more. In some cases, they then increased the price of eggs from brands like ours to maintain a premium between our eggs and theirs. And no, this price increase does not make its way back to Pete and Gerry's. It stays at the retailer level.

The case for buying eggs from small family farms

We have not raised our eggs a single penny in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we're sorry that some stores have chosen to charge more for our eggs.

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. We're also ramping up our existing efforts to donate our product to those in need despite an increase in demand. Perhaps most importantly, we're doing this without raising prices or cutting costs (by laying off workers or the like).

We're hard working individuals and families just like you. We treat our hens, the land, our employees, our communities, and our consumers the way we feel is "right." And we speak openly with you about this to earn (or maintian) your trust.

2015 Avian Influenza (H5N1, Bird Flu)

If you noticed a sharp increase in the price of eggs recently, you’re not alone. Across the country prices for “conventional eggs” i.e. those produced at the lowest possible cost and with the greatest possible inhumanity to hens and people, are skyrocketing. Why? Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is the reason. The disease can spread from wild fowl on their spring migration to domestic agricultural operations. And because these birds live in such densely packed, dirty, inhumane environments, the producers have no choice but to destroy the entire population at that operation once they have a single identified infection – that can mean millions of birds on a single “farm” are lost at once. The result is that over 47 million birds have been put to death since the outbreak started, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch on June 18th.

Here’s the point. These cheap agricultural systems are risky and unsustainable. They only work, until they don’t. Then they shift huge costs and externalities to the communities that host them and to the consumers who buy their products.

At Pete and Gerry’s, we are not immune to Bird Flu, nor the need to raise prices at times when our costs increase; but because we farm responsibly year in and year out, our small farms, caring farmers, and humanely raised hens have a far better chance of avoiding this epidemic and other health risks like Salmonella over time. In fact, we’ve never had a single outbreak of either in our history. It costs more for us to farm this way. But it also means we don’t have to raise prices as often, or as sharply, when something goes wrong. We provide a far more sustainable and predictable price by being responsible caring farmers.

COMMENTS

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Jazmin

May 12, 2020

We have been buying eggs from Pete and Gerry's family farms for years. Excellent quality, a marked difference from conventionally raised eggs. Thank you for all your efforts. Stay safe!

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Noralee Bryant

April 23, 2020

Its just a shame to gouge people this way. In a span of two weeks eggs Doubled in price & &18.00 for a 60count of eggs is OUT RAGIOUS.

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Doug

January 01, 2020

A month ago eggs were selling for $.70/dozen, on Fri. before the New Year they were jacked up to $2.10/ dozen but the price of chicken parts is averaging $1.70/lb.. The same way with bacon +/- 2.00/ lb and pork chops/ shoulder was running at or about $ 2.25/lb, now bacon is about 5 bucks/lb., and pork prices haven't changed. I just don't understand it at all !!!

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Yvonne Rinaldi

August 31, 2018

I appreciate the hard work needed to provide wholesome foods. Keep at it. Eggs are still an inexpensive source of protein. Any extra expense is definitely worth the peace of mind regarding our family’s health.

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