Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Egg Prices Soar as Coronavirus Panic-Buying Clears Shelves

By Rich Duprey - Mar 27, 2020 at 8:39AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Prices tripled within a matter of weeks, exceeding the levels hit during the avian flu outbreak five years ago.

The coronavirus pandemic has sent egg prices soaring. The cost of a dozen eggs now exceeds the prices hit during the avian flu crisis in 2015 when the outbreak led to the slaughter of over 40 million birds, or some 12% of the national laying flock.

While panic buying has mostly focused on hand sanitizer or toilet paper, consumers have been also clearing store shelves of eggs, a cheap source of protein, causing prices to triple within a matter of weeks.

Dozens of eggs in trays

Image source: Getty Images.

Egg markets scrambled by outsized demand

The price of "Midwest large" eggs hit $3.09 per dozen according to the industry's Urner Barry price index, three times higher than the $1.03 per dozen price they sold for at the beginning of the month, and almost 400% higher than where prices stood at the end of January.

Cal-Maine Foods (CALM 2.06%) is the country's largest egg producer, selling over 1 billion dozen eggs in 2019, which represents 19% of all shell eggs produced.

When it reported fiscal second-quarter earnings in the beginning of January, it was suffering from the traditional seasonal decline in prices as sales fell 12.5% though volumes remained flat. It recorded a loss of $10 million for the period.

At the time, there was an oversupply of eggs as hen flocks had grown by 4.6 million to 340.5 million hens. But now, Urner Barry director Brian Moscogiuri told Reuters, "suppliers are seeing four, five, six times the level of demand as before," leading to the current jump in prices.

Egg prices during the avian flu outbreak peaked at just under $3 per dozen.


Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. Stock Quote
Cal-Maine Foods, Inc.
$49.42 (2.06%) $1.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.