Inflation that has increased rapidly in the United States over the past year has had an effect on consumers’ wallets. Eggs are the most recent source of concern because, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their price increased by 138% in December compared to the previous year to $4.25 per dozen.
A farm organization is requesting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate the rise in indications of price gouging by major egg producers. In recent years, a number of groups, including regulators, farmers, and officials from the industry, have argued frequently about the power of major agriculture companies to set prices and drive up what consumers pay for groceries.
In a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan, Farm Action said that the nation’s antitrust regulator should look into the top egg company’s record profits. Cal-Maine Foods is that egg producer, and it owns 20% of the retail egg market. According to a regulatory filing, Cal-Maine saw a 170 percent increase in quarterly sales and a 600 percent increase in gross profits compared to the same quarter last fiscal year.
As a reason for its record sales, the company said that the avian flu had reduced the supply of eggs nationwide, driving up prices. A record-breaking avian flu outbreak was also cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a factor in the high prices.
The USDA reports that since the beginning of 2022, nearly 58 million chickens and turkeys have been killed by avian flu or to stop the virus from spreading, most of them in March and April. According to Basel Musharbash, an attorney with Farm Action, egg inventories were down 29% in December compared to the beginning of the year, a significant drop that may not explain record-high prices. U.S. egg production was about 5% lower in October than it was last year.
In a statement, the American Egg Board, a marketing organization for eggs, stated that wholesale egg prices are beginning to fall and that egg prices reflect a variety of factors.
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