Consumers have raided grocery store shelves and cases over the past couple of weeks, but Brian Earnest, senior commodity analyst of poultry for IEG Vantage, said the imbalance of retail needs is expected to be remedied by allocating supplies from foodservice channels in subsequent weeks.
In the meantime, retailers have struggled to keep shelves stocked, causing wholesale egg prices to reach record-high prices.
On March 25, large eggs delivered to the Northeast were priced at $2.30-2.34/doz., up from 92-96 cents/doz. at the beginning of March. Prices in the Southeast and Midwest were $2.34-2.37/doz. and $2.22-2.25/doz., respectively, up from 96-99 cents and 84-87 cents, respectively. Large eggs delivered to California were $3.07/doz., up from $1.66 on March 5.
IEG Vantage anticipates that shell egg prices will remain at these record levels for at least the next few weeks, if not longer, as the industry reworks supply lines to accommodate the influx in cartoned egg demand and the reduction in use in the food-consumed-away-from-home category.
In 2018, when prices ran up above $2.00/doz., there was a surge in disappearance as consumers reacted to low sticker prices. Consumers returned to previous buying habits as retail price points remained at low levels for several weeks. The difference now, however, is the tighter supply pressure, and low consumer confidence in availability suggests prolonged supply disparity. This, Earnest said, suggests that egg prices remain elevated for a longer period than what occurred in 2018.