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Egg demand surging as consumers panic shop


SALISBURY, Md. — When disaster strikes, market watchers know that American shoppers typically lunge for the same staples: milk, bread, toilet paper — and cartons of eggs.

As ingredients in most baking, useful for making pasta from scratch, and an essential part of the timeless Easter tradition of egg dyeing, it’s easy to understand why these compact sources of protein are in high demand. And, with kids and parents working and schooling from home, families might be finding more time to get cracking with the skillet in the mornings.

Over the last three weeks, the Northeast has seen unprecedented demand for eggs due to coronavirus-fueled panic shopping, said Brian Moscogiuri, marketing director for the commodity market monitoring firm Urner Barry. 

Regionwide, egg retailers’ orders from wholesalers have increased by anywhere from double to 600%, and supply can’t immediately be increased, he said.

“This is the most demand they’ve ever seen in this short period of time,” Moscogiuri said. “And it’s all unexpected — they couldn’t prepare for it.”

Facebook user Chrissy Taylor Cavey posted this photo March 18 of the empty egg case at the North Salisbury Walmart. Coronavirus-fueled panic shopping has wiped out egg inventories in many stores, but the Eastern Shore appears to be avoiding the worst effects of egg demand outpacing supply.

Many stores throughout the region have imposed limits on the number of cartons a customer can buy in a single trip. Around the Delmarva Peninsula, many retailers have not yet instituted such rules, though many grocery customers have taken to Facebook to document the empty spots where eggs used to be.

“Due to limited supply and higher than usual demand, our suppliers have increased their prices on eggs,” states a sign posted at one Salisbury Food Lion. “As a result, you may see higher prices, as well as potential interruptions in supply. We apologize for the inconvenience and will do our best to keep items in stock at the best prices possible.” The store asks customers to take no more than two cartons.



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