Eggo waffles have become increasingly hard to find on grocery store shelves over the past couple years. Shortages of the popular frozen breakfast food have been reported across the United States and Canada. So what’s causing the shortage of Eggos?
Supply Chain Issues
Like many other food products, Eggo waffles have been impacted by supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Issues like labor shortages, transportation delays, and ingredient scarcity have made it difficult for Eggo maker Kellogg’s to keep up with demand. Here are some of the key supply chain challenges contributing to the Eggo shortage:
- Labor shortages at Kellogg’s factories due to pandemic health concerns, childcare issues, and competitive labor markets
- Scarcity of some ingredients used in Eggo recipes, including cooking oils, grains, and packaging materials
- Trucking and transportation delays, making it harder to get ingredients to factories and finished products to stores
- Port congestion and container shortages slowing imports of ingredients and exports of Eggos
Kellogg’s factories have been operating at reduced capacity for prolonged periods during the pandemic. And when production ramps up, it’s still struggling to get products to stores in a timely manner. These systemic supply chain problems continue plaguing Kellogg’s ability to meet demand for Eggos.
While supply has been constrained, demand for Eggo waffles has been surging over the past couple years. More people eating breakfast at home during the pandemic fueled growth in frozen breakfast food sales. Eggo’s popularity also increased after being featured in the hit Netflix series “Stranger Things.” According to IRI data, Eggo sales were up 13% in 2020 and another 5% in 2021. But Kellogg’s hasn’t been able to increase production fast enough to match the growth in demand. They’ve invested millions to expand capacity, but supply chain issues have slowed things down. The resulting imbalance between supply and demand is a primary driver of the Eggo shortage.
Severe weather events have also impacted Kellogg’s Eggo production capabilities at times during the pandemic. In February 2021, heavy snowstorms shut down roads and power grids in Texas, forcing Kellogg’s to halt operations at some factories for weeks. Later that year, Hurricane Ida did extensive damage to Kellogg’s waffle plant in Memphis. Weather disruptions like these, on top of broader supply chain problems, have made it difficult to rebuild Eggo inventory back to normal levels.
Hoarding Exacerbates Shortages
As Eggos have become harder to find, some consumers have responded by hoarding extra boxes whenever they spot them in stores. This hoarding behavior further depletes inventory and makes the shortages even worse. Many grocery stores have placed limits on how many packages of Eggos people can buy at one time. But hoarding still contributes to the product’s scarcity.
When Will the Shortage End?
Kellogg’s has invested over $100 million to increase manufacturing capacity by 30% for its breakfast foods, including Eggo waffles. They say this capacity expansion and other supply chain improvement efforts should allow inventory to be rebuilt over the course of 2022. However, uncertainties around ingredient supplies, transportation networks, consumer demand shifts and additional production disruptions make it difficult to forecast exactly when store shelves will be fully stocked with Eggos again. The shortage likely won’t be resolved until at least late 2022 or 2023, according to industry experts.
Eggo Shortage Impacts
The Eggo waffle shortage has had ripple effects across grocery stores, food service providers, and consumers. Here are some of the notable impacts:
- Lost sales for Kellogg’s, with Eggo being one of their most profitable brands
- Grocery stores unable to keep shelves full, disappointing shoppers
- Restaurants and cafeterias needing to find alternative breakfast foods when they can’t get Eggos for menus
- Consumers annoyed and inconvenienced when they can’t find their favorite frozen waffles
- Some consumers spending more time searching multiple stores to find Eggos in stock
- Higher prices and profiteering around Eggos as inventories remain low
The shortage has been a lose-lose situation for both Kellogg’s and Eggo lovers. Kellogg’s is working hard to remedy the situation, but it will likely take most of 2022 before we see a consistent supply of Eggos on store shelves again.
Coping with the Shortage
Until the Eggo shortage is resolved, consumers will need to get creative about finding alternatives. Here are some tips for coping when your favorite breakfast waffles are hard to find:
- Consider switching to store brand or alternate frozen waffle brands that may be in better supply.
- Make your own homemade waffles from scratch using flour, eggs, milk, etc.
- Try pancakes or french toast for breakfast instead of waffles.
- Stock up on Eggos when you do find them available, but avoid hoarding excess quantities.
- Be flexible and willing to occasionally switch your breakfast routine when Eggos can’t be found.
- Search at multiple stores or shop early in the morning to increase chances of finding Eggos in stock.
While it requires some breakfast flexibility, these tips can help consumers adapt during the challenging Eggo shortage. And looking on the bright side, the shortage is temporary – Eggos will be back in full force eventually!
The History of Eggo Waffles
To understand why Eggos have become such an iconic and in-demand breakfast item, it helps to look back at the product’s long history:
- 1937 – Eggo frozen waffles are invented by Frank Dorsa and Anthony Rossi in San Jose, CA.
- 1953 – The name “Eggo” is chosen, meant to evoke the idea of “egotism” or “ego”.
- 1955 – Kellogg’s acquires Eggo and begins mass marketing frozen waffles nationally.
- 1960s – Ego sales rapidly climb as frozen meals/foods gain popularity in American households.
- 1969 – Kellogg builds a state-of-the-art waffle plant in Memphis to meet soaring demand as Eggos become a top seller.
- 1970s-80s – Product line expands to include variations like blueberry, cinnamon, strawberry, and thicker-style Belgian waffles.
- 2009 – Kellogg’s Memphis plant, now the world’s largest waffle factory, produces over 14 million Eggos per day.
- 2016 – Eggos gain new fame and popularity after appearing in hit Netflix series “Stranger Things”.
Over decades, innovative marketing and product development transformed Eggos from a small startup into America’s dominant waffle brand. Its reputation for quality and taste has made Eggo a breakfast staple for generations of families.
Here is the basic nutritional profile for Kellogg’s traditional original Eggo waffles (per 1 waffle 76g serving):
Eggos provide carbohydrates from enriched bleached wheat flour. They contain a small amount of protein primarily from egg whites and soy flour. The fat content is relatively low since they are not made with butter or oil. Eggos also supply some vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D, and iron.
However, the basic nutrition facts don’t tell the whole story. The taste and texture people love from Eggos comes largely from added sugars and sodium. A single Eggo waffle contains 7g of sugar, accounting for nearly half the carb content. And at 270mg of sodium per waffle, a serving provides around 10% of the daily recommended limit.
Eggos make for a convenient, tasty breakfast when consumed occasionally or in moderation. But relying on them too frequently could lead to excessive sugar and sodium intake. To lighten them up, people can top waffles with fresh fruit, maple syrup, or other lower-calorie options.
Eggo’s Influence on Culture
Over decades, Eggos have established themselves not just as a popular freezer aisle food, but also as an influential element of American culture and nostalgia.
Eggos frequently appear in movies, TV shows, and commercials as a quick, fun breakfast, often targeted at kids. The unique appearance of bite-size frozen waffles makes them easily recognizable on screen. Most recently, the prominence of Eggos in “Stranger Things” fueled new interest and sales.
The brand also benefits from nostalgia and memories of childhood. For generations of Americans, eating Eggos was a simple breakfast time treat and tradition. People associate Eggos with warm memories of families, weekends, and lazy mornings.
Eggos have even inspired an art form – making waffle sculptures by strategically biting or cutting waffles. Parents post pictures of their Eggo art creations made for their children. The frozen waffle’s grid pattern lends itself perfectly to fun shapes.
Thanks to their great taste, ease, adaptability and nostalgia factor, Eggos have secured a beloved place not just American kitchens, but also in broader culture and media.
While shortages over the past two years have made Eggos hard to find at times, this iconic frozen breakfast food remains a beloved American staple. Supply chain improvements by Kellogg’s over 2022 should allow Eggo inventory and availability to return to normal levels. Patient consumers may need to adjust breakfast routines and cope with substitutes for a while longer. But Eggos will be back in full force on grocery store shelves soon enough. So hang in there waffle fans!