Tue, 07 Feb 2023

Farm group: High US egg prices should be investigated

Robert Besser
25 Jan 2023, 04:36 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: In a letter sent out this week, farm advocacy group Farm Action said that as Americans continue to pay more than ever for eggs, the Federal Trade Commission should examine high egg prices for signs of price fixing by major egg companies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of eggs rose 138 percent in December from 2021, to $4.25 a dozen.

In its letter to FTC chair Lina Khan, Farm Action stressed that while the US Department of Agriculture blamed avian flu for high egg prices, the country's antitrust regulator should also investigate the record-high profits of leading egg companies.

According to a late December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Cal-Maine Foods, which controls 20 percent of the retail egg market in the United States, reported a quarterly sales rise of 110 percent and gross profits of more than 600 percent, over the same quarter in the previous fiscal year.

The company said its record sales were due to the fact that lower national egg supplies due to avian flu drives up prices, despite there being no positive avian flu cases on any of its farms.

USDA data showed that in October, US egg production was some 5 percent lower than last year, while egg supplies were down 29 percent in December, compared to the start of the year.

"We want the FTC to dig in and see if consumers are being price gouged," said Basel Musharbash, a lawyer representing Farm Action, as quoted by Reuters.

In a statement, Cal-Maine said that higher production costs, along with avian flu, caused higher prices.

In a statement, egg marketing group American Egg Board said that egg prices are influenced by various factors, adding that wholesale egg prices are beginning to drop.

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