Latest Coronavirus Effect: Pre-Pesach Egg Shortage in Israel

(Sarah Schuman/Flash90)

While store shelves are generally well-stocked, the coronavirus crisis has wreaked havoc with supplies of a Pesach essential – eggs. Spot shortages in recent weeks have turned into a nationwide phenomenon, with many stores unable to get any eggs at all. At stores where there is a supply, there are limits on the amount a customer can buy.

One reason for the egg shortage is a lack of personnel to collect, box and deliver eggs, with many workers staying home because of coronavirus. Although many aspects of the egg industry are automated, key roles are still filled by humans. The increased seasonal demand, combined with the lack of manpower, is overwhelming local supplies, industry officials said.

Forseeing the problem, the Agriculture Ministry increased the quota for imported eggs, but here, too, international shipping slowdowns due to the crisis have put many freighters and cargo plane deliveries behind schedule. According to the ministry, many of the egg shipments will arrive in Israel only a day or two before Pesach, which means that while there are likely to be plenty of eggs on Chol Hamoed and afterwards, shoppers will be struggling to find eggs before Yom Tov.

To relieve the shortage, the Agriculture and Finance Ministries are examining ways to speed up egg shipments. Eggs are imported into Israel by private importers, and the ministries are examining the possibility of giving the firms incentives to prompt them to change the routes of freighters currently at sea. Officials said in a statement that they were positive they would be able to alleviate the shortage in time for the chag, and that all Israelis could be ensured that they will have the eggs they need for Pesach.

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