Why the Cost of Your Favorite Grocery Staple Keeps Fluctuating
Grocery store prices are far from normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of meat has virtually doubled and prices for rice and wheat products are going up because of the increase in at-home cooking. Some items are getting cheaper. Things like soup, cookies, and other comfort foods (like this kid's favorite) were popular in March, but now are getting cheaper.
One item, in particular, has seen prices yo-yo like crazy. Eggs don't have a fixed price — it naturally fluctuates based on demand. And when stay-at-home orders were issued in March, people started buying out baking and cooking essentials. This caused egg prices to see high-highs and low-lows.
At the beginning of March, a dozen eggs were around $1. A few weeks later, in early April, the average price steeply rose to $3. Not only that but the company that produces the freshest shell eggs, Cal-Maine Foods, saw a decrease in profits during this time, even though sales were up. The very next week egg prices were $0.95 and the week after that they went up to $1.50. In May cartons held steady between $0.94 and $1.19 after complaints were filed and demand decreased, according to data from Food Dive.
"While our sales volumes were in line with last year, our overall sales revenue was down due to the lower average selling prices compared with the same period of fiscal 2019," Dolph Baker, Chairman, and CEO of Cal-Maine Foods said in a statement. "Our results for the third quarter of fiscal 2020 reflect more challenging market conditions than we experienced for the same period last year." The highest a dozen eggs cost in 2019 was $1.37.
As more restaurants open their dining room doors, demand at grocery stores is going down and shelves are restocked. Expect some big changes to your neighborhood convenience store, though. Prepackaged produce, plexiglass, wider aisles, no salad bars, and other changes are likely here to stay in order to keep customers safe.