Skip to content Skip to footer

Warren Demands Answers on Soaring Egg Prices as Top Producers’ Profits Skyrocket

Egg prices have climbed 150 percent over the last year while the top egg producer has raked in record profits.

A customer shops for eggs at a Sprouts Farmers Market on February 8, 2023, in Austin, Texas.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is demanding answers from the U.S.’s top egg producers as egg prices have soared in recent months, raising questions about whether the industry is participating in anti-competitive behaviors and price gouging.

In letters sent to the top five egg producers in the U.S. on Thursday, Warren and Sen. Katie Porter (D-California) called on corporations to elucidate their rationale for increasing egg prices and provide details on recent executive bonuses and increases in company profits.

Egg producers may be using avian flu and supply chain issues as excuses to “pad their own profits at the expense of American families,” they said.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, egg prices were up 150 percent in January from the previous year, reaching an average of $4.82 a dozen across the U.S.

Meanwhile, the nation’s top egg producer, Cal-Maine Foods, which controls 20 percent of the retail market, has been recording record profits; in December, Cal-Maine’s gross quarterly profits increased by more than 600 percent over profits from the same period of time 2021, and by 65 percent annually.

Even though government officials and the industry have pointed to an outbreak of avian flu to justify the price increases, Cal-Maine has had zero positive avian flu tests on its farms, and Cal-Maine said that its record profits last year were “driven by record average conventional egg selling price.”

“This is a pattern we’ve seen too often since the COVID-19 pandemic: companies jacking up their prices to pad their own profits, putting an additional burden on American families and the economy as a whole,” the lawmakers wrote in their letters to Hillandale Farms, Daybreak Foods, Cal-Maine Foods, Versova Management and Center Fresh Group and Rose Acre Farms.

“American families working to put food on the table deserve to know whether the increased prices they are paying for eggs represent a legitimate response to reduced supply or out-of-control corporate greed,” they continued.

Recent hikes in egg prices have prompted lawmakers and farm groups to ask the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate an antitrust investigation into the top producers. Last month, advocacy group Farm Action wrote to FTC Chair Lina Khan, saying that the impact of the supply chain and avian flu was minimal on production — while flock sizes were reduced by no more than 7 to 8 percent over the previous year, there were record-high rates of egg laying among the remaining hens.

“Contrary to industry narratives, the increase in the price of eggs has not been an ‘Act of God’ — it has been simple profiteering,” Farm Action wrote.

As the lawmakers pointed out in their letters, this would not be the first time that egg producers have faced scrutiny from antitrust regulators if the FTC chose to investigate. In 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms, the U.S.’s second-largest egg producer, for “illegally gouging the price of eggs” during the pandemic. The lawsuit was ultimately settled out of court.

Join us in defending the truth before it’s too late

The future of independent journalism is uncertain, and the consequences of losing it are too grave to ignore. To ensure Truthout remains safe, strong, and free, we need to raise $47,000 in the next 8 days. Every dollar raised goes directly toward the costs of producing news you can trust.

Please give what you can — because by supporting us with a tax-deductible donation, you’re not just preserving a source of news, you’re helping to safeguard what’s left of our democracy.