Eggs are as expensive as ever, but bacon’s a bargain. Why?

The pandemic has led to increasing egg prices and decreasing bacon prices, exposing supply-chain differences.


March 31, 2020

Egg prices have increased nearly 250% from 84¢ to $2.93 for a dozen in the US this year, making huevos a better investment than gold (and every major stock index) in 2020.

On the other side of the skillet, prices for pork belly — the cut used for makin’ bacon — decreased 56% in just the last 2 weeks, hitting their lowest price since 1999.

So… why is one side of the breakfast plate cooling off while the other sizzles?

It’s a tale of 2 supply chains

Restaurants and supermarkets rely on separate sources to buy ingredients.

Some food products are generally in demand just among restaurant suppliers (like foie gras) or supermarket suppliers (like Lucky Charms). Others are in demand at both — but tend to be more popular at one than the other.

In the past, both eggs and bacon were supermarket-centric. 

But pork-belly products became more restaurant-centric — menus were filled with bacon-wrapped everything.

And it’s a bad time to be a restaurant staple

Market shifts usually impact both supply chains fairly equally. But this pandemic had an unusual impact on restaurant and supermarket suppliers:

  • A spike in supermarket demand led to a sudden shortage of supermarket-centric ingredients… like eggs.
  • A drop in restaurant demand led to a sudden surplus of restaurant-centric ingredients… like bacon.

Now, the 2 supply chains are going to get tangled

Restaurant food suppliers are starting to sell their restaurant ingredients to supermarkets to stay afloat:

  • Sysco and US Foods, the country’s 2 largest restaurant suppliers, are both pivoting to supply supermarkets.
  • Regalis, which usually sells truffles, foie gras, and other pricey foods to restaurants, started selling directly to consumers. It’s offering a free ounce of Black Kaluga caviar — a classic restaurant-centric ingredient — to anyone who spends $250.

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