We have always been committed to authenticity and transparency as exemplified in the rigorous third-party standards for animal welfare that are upheld on all of our small family farms, in our dedication to organic farming free from pesticides and GMOs, and even in our constant research and efforts to package our eggs in the most sustainable cartons possible. In keeping with that promise to you, we also want to be upfront and honest about the recent price increase that you may have noticed during your last trip to pick up a carton or two of Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs.
In fact, if you've purchased anything from the grocery store lately, you've probably noticed that cost of food and household goods as a whole has generally gone up. In other words, it's not just eggs. Meat, fish, canned goods, paper goods, and even pet food are just a few of the items that have become more expensive. These increased costs are a result of many factors, some of which you may have heard about in the news. While inflation hit a 30 year high in late 2021, that's not the full reason. The entire country is struggling with logistical challenges related to labor, driver shortages, and even crop shortages. In the egg world, the cost of high quality organic ingredients for our hens' supplemental feed has reached an all-time high, as well, and is something the entire industry is struggling with. In combination with the ongoing pandemic, all of these factors have put many businesses in a tough spot, left to make some difficult decisions.
If you know Pete and Gerry's, you know that cutting corners will never align with our philosophy. In fact, it's not even an option for us. As a B Corporation, we have a triple bottom line: we're as committed to people and the planet as we are to remaining a profitable business. That means that we had to make a change not only to remain in business, but to continue employing hard workers who believe in our mission, supporting our network of small family farms across America, and giving back to our communities.
And so, in order to keep bringing the high quality organic eggs you know and love to tables all over the country, we've chosen to increase our prices for the time being. We recognize that this is a difficult time for everyone and higher grocery bills can only contribute to that, so we encourage you take advantage of our promotions and loyalty program. Early on in the pandemic, we chose to reduce the number of proofs of purchase required for a free product coupon from ten to five. We hope this small change will help you, our loyal supporters, continue to enjoy the organic eggs we're so proud to offer. We can't thank you enough for the compassion and support you've shown our network of small family farmers during these difficult months. You're voting with your dollar when you make purchases at the store, and we're honored to join you in the kitchen.
The 2019-2020 coronavirus global pandemic began to drastically change life in the United States in early 2020. With these changes came unexpected fluctuations in prices for basic household necessities, including eggs. This blog post explains the reasoning in more detail, but the basics are rewritten here for your ease.
Over 80% of eggs in the United States are produced in a factory "farm" setting – cages, no outside time, artificial light...the stuff of very dark Netflix documentaries. These are called commodity eggs, and they're the ones that end up in "store brand" cartons, priced around a dollar a dozen (depending on the time of year and year itself, of course). No single farm sets the price for these eggs; they're priced according to a commodity index similar to wheat or milk (it's called Urner Barry if you feel inclined to Google).
As the virus spread throughout the country, people transitioned to a homebound lifestyle, and as households found themselves in increasingly tight financial situations, more and more people turned to eggs. It's easy to see why: eggs are relatively inexpensive, healthy, easy to prepare, keep well, and are a popular food item at any hour of the day. Demand skyrocketed.
And as you remember from your basic Economics lessons, this heightened demand caused the price index to increase as well. Retailers purchasing these commodity eggs were spending more, and therefore had to charge more. In some cases, they then increased the price of eggs from brands like ours to maintain a premium between our eggs and theirs. And no, this price increase does not make its way back to Pete and Gerry's. It stays at the retailer level.
We have not raised our eggs a single penny in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and we're sorry that some stores have chosen to charge more for our eggs.
We're working as hard as we can to increase our production while simultaneously ensuring the safety of our farmers and the hard-working folks at our washing and packing facilities. We're also ramping up our existing efforts to donate our product to those in need despite an increase in demand. Perhaps most importantly, we're doing this without raising prices or cutting costs (by laying off workers or the like).
We're hard working individuals and families just like you. We treat our hens, the land, our employees, our communities, and our consumers the way we feel is "right." And we speak openly with you about this to earn (or maintian) your trust.
If you noticed a sharp increase in the price of eggs recently, you’re not alone. Across the country prices for “conventional eggs” i.e. those produced at the lowest possible cost and with the greatest possible inhumanity to hens and people, are skyrocketing. Why? Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is the reason. The disease can spread from wild fowl on their spring migration to domestic agricultural operations. And because these birds live in such densely packed, dirty, inhumane environments, the producers have no choice but to destroy the entire population at that operation once they have a single identified infection – that can mean millions of birds on a single “farm” are lost at once. The result is that over 47 million birds have been put to death since the outbreak started, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch on June 18th.
Here’s the point. These cheap agricultural systems are risky and unsustainable. They only work, until they don’t. Then they shift huge costs and externalities to the communities that host them and to the consumers who buy their products.
At Pete and Gerry’s, we are not immune to Bird Flu, nor the need to raise prices at times when our costs increase; but because we farm responsibly year in and year out, our small farms, caring farmers, and humanely raised hens have a far better chance of avoiding this epidemic and other health risks like Salmonella over time. In fact, we’ve never had a single outbreak of either in our history. It costs more for us to farm this way. But it also means we don’t have to raise prices as often, or as sharply, when something goes wrong. We provide a far more sustainable and predictable price by being responsible caring farmers.