Mar 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Retail egg shortage hits supermarkets ahead of Easter

A pile of colorful Easter eggs
Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Grocery stores across the United States are facing an on-shelf shortage of eggs, as quarantined Americans stockpile and "stress-bake," before Easter Sunday — April 12, The Washington Post reports.

The state of play: Vital Farms, the biggest supplier of naturally raised eggs in the country, shipped 15 million eggs to 13,000 groceries last week, per the Post. That's 150% more than what the company typically ships, per CEO Russell Diez-Canseco. And retailers have already burned through that extra inventory.

  • The wholesale cost of a dozen Midwest large eggs, a benchmark in the industry, jumped from $1.03 at the beginning of March to $3.09 on Thursday, CBS News reports.
  • The sale of eggs went up 44% for the week of March 14 compared to last year, according to Nielsen data.

What's needed: For farmers to increase egg production, they have to grow their flock. But that could take time, since chicks need 22 weeks to become laying hens, per the Post.

The impact: People are now purchasing chicks, The New York Times reports. Some are using the baby chickens to keep busy during self-isolation, while others worry about the depleting egg supply.

Yes, but: Experts aren't sure how Easter will impact the existing egg supply. People are less likely to go to social gatherings this holiday as the novel coronavirus continues to engulf the country. Americans might use the eggs they already purchased, rather than trying to buy more.

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