Consumers’ wallets have been affected by soaring inflation in the US over the past year.
The latest concern is eggs, the price of which rose 138% in December from a year earlier, to $4.25 a dozen, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A farm group is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the increase for signs of price gouging by top egg companies.
Various groups, from regulators to farmers and industry officials, have often clashed in recent years over the power of top agricultural firms to set prices and increase what consumers pay for groceries.
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The nation’s antitrust regulator should investigate record profits at the top egg company, Farm Action said Thursday in a letter to FTC Chairman Lina Khan.
That egg producer is Cal-Maine Foods, which controls 20% of the retail egg market.
Quarterly sales at Cal-Maine were up 110% and gross profit was up more than 600% over the same quarter last fiscal year, according to a regulatory filing.
The company pointed to reduced egg supply across the country due to bird flu driving up prices as a reason for the record sales.
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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also pointed to a record outbreak of bird flu as a reason for the high prices.
Nearly 58 million chickens and turkeys have been killed by bird flu or to control the spread of the virus since the beginning of 2022, mostly in March and April, according to the USDA.
U.S. egg production was about 5% lower in October compared to last year, and egg inventories were down 29% in December compared to the beginning of the year, a significant decline but one that may not explain record high prices, said Basel Musharbash , an attorney with Farm Action.
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“We want the FTC to dig in and see if consumers are being price-gouged,” Musharbash said.
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In a statement to Reuters, Cal-Maine said higher production costs are also a factor in higher prices.
The American Egg Board, an egg marketing group, said in a statement that egg prices reflect a number of factors and wholesale egg prices are beginning to fall.
FOX Business has reached out to the FTC for comment.