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“The grab-and-go breakfast on the run has been replaced by a family breakfast,” Yarrow said.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

So what’s up with “Zoom fatigue”?

It’s a real thing. The science backs it up — there’s new research from Stanford University. So why is it that the technology can be so draining? Jeremy Bailenson with Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab puts it this way: “It’s like being in an elevator where everyone in the elevator stopped and looked right at us for the entire elevator ride at close-up.” Bailenson said turning off self-view and shrinking down the video window can make interactions feel more natural and less emotionally taxing.

How are Americans spending their money these days?

Economists are predicting that pent-up demand for certain goods and services is going to burst out all over as more people get vaccinated. A lot of people had to drastically change their spending in the pandemic because they lost jobs or had their hours cut. But at the same time, most consumers “are still feeling secure or optimistic about their finances,” according to Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, which regularly surveys shoppers. A lot of people enjoy browsing in stores, especially after months of forced online shopping. And another area expecting a post-pandemic boost: travel.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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