Today’s microeconomics question, brought to you by the fine people at Kellogg’s: How will Americans respond to the great Eggo shortage?
According to CNN Money.com (ht Michelle):
Grocery stores will be experiencing a shortage of the waffles until mid-2010 due to problems at two bakeries, a Kellogg’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Flooding at an Atlanta bakery during heavy rains in October forced Kellogg, which makes Eggo products, to shut down production temporarily, said company spokesman Kris Charles. Plus, equipment at Kellogg’s largest waffle facility, based in Rossville, Tenn., needs extensive repairs.
“We are working around the clock to restore Eggo store inventories to normal levels as quickly as possible,” Charles said in an e-mail.
Remaining inventory will be rationed to stores across the country “based on historical percentage of business.”
All you armchair economists will immediately recognize that the looming Eggo shortage exists not only because of Kellogg’s production problems, but also because it’s decided to ration the delectable waffles, rather than raise prices.
My question: How will stores and shoppers respond to this shortage? Will grocery stores raise Eggo prices? If they do, will they be denounced as Eggo price gougers? And if not, will there be empty shelves in the refrigerated breakfast section?
And what about consumers? Will they rush out to hoard Eggos today, thus exacerbating the near-term shortage? Will a black market in Eggos emerge?
I’d be interested to hear what you see when you are next doing field research in a grocery store. Of course, in this day-and-age, there’s an even faster way to gauge the Eggo-consciousness of America: check out the stream of Eggo tweets over at Twitter (btw, you can follow me here). Judging by a quick skim of the several hundred Eggo-related tweets in the past few minutes (!), I would say that (a) some consumers will indeed hoard Eggos, (b) some are joking about hoarding Eggos and then putting them up on eBay, and (c) a few consumers are looking at the bottom of their freezers to see if they have any Eggos to sell. Ah, a good old supply response in the face of a shortage.