Major Grocery Stores, Including Kroger and Lidl, Are Limiting Egg Purchases
Rising prices and short supply are impacting egg-lovers across the U.S.
Whether your go-to breakfast is an omelette or you just like whipping up baked goods, eggs are a staple in most kitchens. And in the past, they were an economical choice, as a dozen eggs typically cost less than $2 (for the non-organic ones, anyway). But recently, that's no longer been the case.
Egg prices are soaring, and at the same time, demand is outpacing supply. As a result, shoppers in some stores are finding empty shelves where eggs used to be. Now, several major grocers, including Kroger and Lidl, have started limiting egg purchases in certain regions. Read on to find out what's currently going on with this kitchen staple.
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Egg prices have been rising recently.
Shoppers have started noticing a significant change in the price of eggs during their recent grocery store trips. "A dozen eggs is like $7 in my Kroger right now," one person tweeted on Jan. 10. "Ain't no way." Another Twitter user had a similar complaint just a few days later on Jan. 12: "Eggs is $8 now. The price on a chickens did not go up so please tell me why eggs that use to cost a dollar and some change is now EIGHT DOLLARS!"
This is not an isolated issue. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) shows that the average price of eggs has skyrocketed by a staggering 60 percent in just one year. Depending where you live, a dozen large eggs could cost you anywhere from $4.43 to $7.37 right now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Egg Markets Overview published Jan. 6.
Now this staple is facing a shortage.
The cost of eggs might not be your biggest concern anymore, however. In fact, you might be lucky to find any eggs at all on your supermarket shelf right now. "No eggs at Costco," one person tweeted on Jan. 9, alongside a video of empty shelves in the store. "Is there an egg shortage now?" California meteorologist Rob Carlmark experienced the same issue when shopping on Jan. 11. "No eggs at my local grocery store. Like ZERO," Carlmark tweeted with a photo of the entirely empty eggs section.
The New York Times reported that shoppers are having trouble finding eggs across the U.S., from Colorado to New York. "Shelves are bare in the store and when you find them, they're twice or even three times more expensive than they usually are," Maja Nelson, a resident from Burlingame, California, told local news outlet KRON 4 on Jan. 11.
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Major grocery stores have started limiting egg purchases.
As egg troubles continue to mount, supermarkets are stepping in to try to manage the issue. "Limit 2 per customer for 9 dollar eggs. Thing are fine. Things are totally fine," a viral Jan. 9 tweet reads, accompanied by a photo of a sign confirming the purchase limit posted in front of eggs at a Kroger store. "At this time, there's a nationwide shortage of eggs," the sign explains. "With high seasonal demand, you may notice fewer supplies or higher prices. We apologize for the inconvenience."
The New York Times confirmed that Kroger has started limiting egg purchases at certain locations. Currently, the popular grocery chain also has a "limit three" alert online for all of its eggs. "Due to high demand, some types of products currently have quantity restrictions," the alert on its website states.
Kroger is not the only retailer limiting egg purchases. Lidl has also started imposing caps in certain places, according to The New York Times. "In periods of high demand relative to product supply, as retailers nationally see today with eggs, our stores may place temporary quantity limits on high-demand products," a Lidl spokesperson told the newspaper.
Other news reports confirm that the following grocery chains have started limiting egg purchases at certain locations: Costco, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Safeway, Trader Joe's and Fred Meyer. On the other hand, a spokesperson for Walmart told Winsight Grocery Business on Jan. 11 that the company has not imposed any purchase limits on eggs, despite the current supply chain challenges.
Experts say a virus is to blame.
What exactly is causing the current crack in our egg supply?
One of the major contributing factors is a recent avian influenza outbreak, according to The New York Times. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that more than 57 million birds have been infected by the avian influenza, also known as the bird flu, since Jan. 2022.
The flu is often fatal for infected chickens, but even flocks exposed to the virus, and not necessarily infected, are slaughtered to prevent it from spreading. The USDA said this has resulted in the depopulation of more than 44 million laying hens in the U.S., per The New York Times. Depopulations at commercial facilities have lead to an average 7.5 percent decrease in the domestic eggs supply each month since the start of the outbreak.
Experts are anticipating a turnaround, but it will take some time. "We expect a slight decline between now and Easter, when prices will likely spike again. However, we don't anticipate a retraction back to pre-bird flu levels," Kevin Bergquist, an analyst at Wells Fargo Agri-Food Institute told Yahoo Finance. "If the outbreak dissipates over the next six months, flock-laying birds will slowly rebuild, increasing egg supplies and helping alleviate high egg prices in the long term. Summer egg prices are usually much lower than the holiday seasons, and that could happen again in 2023."