Egg prices skyrocketed, hitting Philly breakfast spots and consumers hard

Mallory Fix-Lopez of Point Breeze Brunch Bistro has watched the price of eggs rise.

A year ago, a case of 30 tons cost him about $50. Last week, he said it cost $127.

At Point Bistro, which she owns with her husband and executive chef, Juan Lopez, she goes through about 1,200 eggs a week.

The couple said they raised the price of all menu items by about $2 during the pandemic, with omelets now $15. But their net profits remain “significantly lower” than they were before COVID, despite revenue growth of around 20% over the same period.

“At this point, I feel like if places don’t raise prices, they’re going to go out of business,” Fix-Lopez said. But “when do people stop ordering omelets? “You can’t pay $20 for an omelette.”

Why did the prices go up?

After months of market volatility, the skyrocketing egg price marks the latest financial blow to small business owners and consumers.

The increase comes amid an egg shortage caused by an outbreak of bird flu, which has drastically reduced the country’s egg supply. Steps taken to reduce the spread of the virus among the herds have led to the slaughter of the animals According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are tens of millions of eggshells across the country.

Emily Metz, president and CEO of the American Egg Board, told the New York Times last week that rising fuel, feed and packaging costs also contributed to the shortage.

As a result, the average price of a dozen large A eggs rose to $4.25 in December, up from $1.92 the previous January, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Shoppers in the Philadelphia area felt the sticker shock.

“It’s just overwhelming,” said Joy Campbell, 38, of Paulsboro, who uses eggs in meals for herself and her children, ages 6 and 8, at least every day. “I walked out of stores a few times because I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’

Eggs are the main source of protein in her household, but if prices continue to rise, they may need to cut back.

In King of Prussia, Michael Sheinbaum, 55, is intimately familiar with the fluctuations in egg prices over the past year. An avid cook for himself and his wife, he usually keeps two 18-egg eggs in their apartment fridge, cooks some for breakfast and hard-boils the rest for other dishes like tuna salad.

“We haven’t had a few eggs,” he said. But “if it got more expensive, we probably would.”

“The price is bad,” he said. Although “it’s like the price of gas. At what point do you stop driving so much?”

Comparison shopping at grocery stores

Sheinbaum said she waited a little longer to recover her second 18-pack, scouring the shelves of her local Giant, Lidl and ALDI for the best deals in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, he found an 18-pack at a store for less than $6.

“I said less than $6. I haven’t seen under $6 for an 18 in a while,” he said. “Hey, that’s a good deal.”

He posted his findings on a neighborhood Facebook group in hopes of others going on a similar egg hunt.

Within minutes, he said, someone reacted with a laughing emoji, which isn’t the response he’s gotten in past posts about the latest supermarket deals. He found the reaction “telling,” and it got him thinking about what constitutes a good thing in these times.

Sheinbaum’s post is one of many that have sparked angry, angry and sometimes humorous discussions on nearly every social media platform in recent weeks. The shortage has inspired viral memes, videos and at least one TikTok rap that includes the catchy lyrics: “These egg prices are freaking me out, so we’re just eating grits and bacon.” As of Friday, the video had 295,500 views.

At the Westmont restaurant in Haddon Township, owner Chris Prentzas said the egg shortage has had a positive effect on his business, which goes through 12,000 eggs a week. The situation prompted him to switch from conventional to pasture-raised eggs this month, a move he had been considering for some time. In the current market, he said the cost through his supplier is not much different from regular eggs, although he declined to specify what he paid.

However, Prentzas said he plans to raise menu prices soon because of many rising costs, including other groceries and wages. He expects his customers to understand.

“Everybody goes to the supermarket and everybody sees all the growth happening,” he said. “It’s not just eggs; it’s all over.”

Price increase three times during the year

Louis Barson, owner of Hymie’s Deli, said he has adjusted prices three times in the past year because of rising prices on everything from romaine and iceberg lettuce to turkey and bacon. During its more than three decades as a Merion Station landmark, it changed its menu fare, usually every two years.

“This year, things have really stepped up,” Barson said. “I’m almost numb from that point of view.”

Hymie lays about 5,400 eggs per week. Chefs use them in breakfast items like omelets, casseroles, pancake and waffle mixes, as well as potato latkes and matzo balls.

He said he’s losing “a ton of money a year” with the cost of paying more than $4 per egg a few months ago. But as a longtime restaurateur and sufferer of the pandemic, he said he’s less concerned about factors beyond his control.

“Does it affect your bottom line? Yes,” Barson said. “Do I lose sleep over the price of eggs? No, I don’t.”

“Like everything else, it will come back,” he said. “They will solve the problem”

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