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COVID-19

As Americans shift breakfast to home, wholesale egg and orange juice prices soar

Mitchell Hartman Mar 30, 2020
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Egg prices are up as consumer habits change during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

As Americans shift breakfast to home, wholesale egg and orange juice prices soar

Mitchell Hartman Mar 30, 2020
Egg prices are up as consumer habits change during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

With the rush to stock up — or hoard — groceries, there’s been a big jump in some commodity prices. The wholesale price of “Midwest large” eggs has tripled since early March and spiked to over $3 for a dozen late last week — an all-time high. Orange juice is also now in short supply here and abroad, and the price has soared on futures markets. 

With two college-age kids back home, we can’t keep enough eggs in the fridge these days. Kit Yarrow, professor emerita of consumer psychology at Golden Gate University, said the COVID-19 pandemic is changing eating habits.

“The grab-and-go breakfast on the run has been replaced by a family breakfast,” Yarrow said.

And Marina Michelson, co-owner of Paper or Plastik Café in Los Angeles, is supplying the ingredients. Since shutting down table service, she’s been selling groceries out of her pantry.

“The things that sell the best are definitely breakfast items,” Michelson said. “In the last 10 days, we’ve sold like 50 dozen eggs.”

Which are up 10 cents an egg. 

Farmers can’t raise more chickens or plant more orange trees right away, so supplies are tight, driving wholesale prices up. But Jim Hertel, food and beverage industry analyst at Inmar Intelligence, said retailers might not pass it on.

“Nobody wants to be seen as a profiteer,” he said. So for the time being, retailers are likely eating the higher costs. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What does the unemployment picture look like?

It depends on where you live. The national unemployment rate has fallen from nearly 15% in April down to 8.4% percent last month. That number, however, masks some big differences in how states are recovering from the huge job losses resulting from the pandemic. Nevada, Hawaii, California and New York have unemployment rates ranging from 11% to more than 13%. Unemployment rates in Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota and Vermont have now fallen below 5%.

Will it work to fine people who refuse to wear a mask?

Travelers in the New York City transit system are subject to $50 fines for not wearing masks. It’s one of many jurisdictions imposing financial penalties: It’s $220 in Singapore, $130 in the United Kingdom and a whopping $400 in Glendale, California. And losses loom larger than gains, behavioral scientists say. So that principle suggests that for policymakers trying to nudge people’s public behavior, it may be better to take away than to give.

How are restaurants recovering?

Nearly 100,000 restaurants are closed either permanently or for the long term — nearly 1 in 6, according to a new survey by the National Restaurant Association. Almost 4.5 million jobs still haven’t come back. Some restaurants have been able to get by on innovation, focusing on delivery, selling meal or cocktail kits, dining outside — though that option that will disappear in northern states as temperatures fall. But however you slice it, one analyst said, the United States will end the year with fewer restaurants than it began with. And it’s the larger chains that are more likely to survive.

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