Two Democratic lawmakers—Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Katie Porter of California—have written to top egg companies, questioning why their prices have skyrocketed to record highs.
The letters were sent to top agriculture firms—Cal-Maine Foods, Hillandale Farms, Rose Acre Farms, Daybreak Foods, and Versova Management—amid concerns from farmers and antitrust advocates that the corporations have the power to set prices.
The price of eggs was up 150% in January from the year prior to $4.80 per dozen, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meanwhile, the overall inflation rate slowed to 6.4% in January compared with a year earlier and was well below it’s 9.1% peak in June, although the government’s consumer price report showed that inflationary pressures remain and are likely to keep prices elevated well into 2023.
Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture pointing to record cases of avian flu killing tens of millions of chickens and turkeys, the two lawmakers said the spike in prices raises concerns about anti-competitive conduct. They requested information on not just the avian flu impact but also executive compensation, profit margins, and whether companies have communicated with one another about egg prices.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote.
Cal-Maine Foods, which controls about 20% of the U.S. egg market, is the only one of the targeted companies that’s public. It reported gross profits up 600% in a late-December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The lawmakers requested responses from the agricultural firms by March 1.