Days before Pesach, Israel is grappling with a shortage of 30 million eggs.
A shortage of eggs seems like a mundane concern in light of the life-threatening spread of the coronavirus but since Pesach is coming, when most Israelis consume many more eggs than usual, the shortage has led the government to dedicate a special logistics committee to lead the effort to restock Israel with eggs before Pesach.
The government has blamed the shortage on difficulties in importing eggs from Italy and Spain due to the severe outbreak of the coronavirus in those countries, adding that Israel is normally self-sufficient in providing eggs to the country from local coops. However, according to the government, the more recent shortage is due to panicked Israelis overbuying essential items and hoarding.
Normally Israelis buy 6 million eggs a day but since the coronavirus crisis began, it has increased to 10 million eggs, and egg purchases go up by 20% before Pesach every year, according to The Marker.
A black market has even developed for eggs, which can be a health hazard as the eggs could be obtained from sources that do not adhere to agricultural regulations, such as from the Palestinian Authority.
Last Friday, Agriculture Minister Tzachi Nanegbi ordered increased imports of eggs from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ukraine.
A cargo ship loaded with eggs from Spain docked in the Ashdod port on Sunday morning and were quickly distributed to stores where they were sold out even more quickly. One million eggs were flown in from Portugal on Monday on two direct El Al flights. Another “egg flight” is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.
— מוקד החדשות של ישראל (@mokednewsil) April 5, 2020
Israel’s largest egg distributor, M. Lasser, rented the El Al flights but the Israeli government chipped in 85% of the $300,000 cost of the two flights, according to a Calcalist report.
M. Lasser CEO Mickey Lasser told Calcalist that the demand for eggs in Israel is much higher in Israel since the coronavirus crisis began and has also been higher than usual ahead of Pesach.
And for those who may be concerned about consuming eggs from countries suffering from a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus, Dr. Ella Sklan, a clinical microbiologist and immunologist from Tel Aviv University, said on Channel 12 News that there there is no risk involved since the coronavirus only survives on open surfaces for 72 hours and by the times the eggs reach Israeli ports from European plants, over 72 hours have passed.
On Monday morning, two grocery stores in Rishon L’Tzion were forced to call the police when a crowd gathered to buy eggs despite the warnings of the shop owners to adhere to social distancing regulations.
The police regained order and all the eggs were quickly sold out.
מישהי בשכונה עם קשרים אירגנה קבוצת רכישה של ביצים.
— Yanir Cozin – יניר קוזין (@yanircozin) March 31, 2020
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)