High egg prices should be investigated, US farm group says

Jan 19 (Reuters) – The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) really should examine substantial egg price ranges for indicators of price tag gouging from prime egg businesses, a farm group stated, as Americans continue to pay out more than at any time for the domestic staple.

US regulators, farmers, and industry have usually argued in current a long time about the electric power of prime agriculture corporations to established costs and generate up what buyers pay back for groceries, such as when the cost of beef skyrocketed in 2021.

The hottest problem is eggs, the cost of which was up 138% in December from a 12 months prior, to $4.25 a dozen, in accordance to the Bureau of Labor Stats.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has pointed to a record outbreak of avian flu as a explanation for the large price ranges. But the nation’s antitrust regulator really should also study record-superior earnings at the major egg enterprise, mentioned Farm Motion on Thursday in a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan.

Cal-Maine Foodstuff (Relaxed.O), which controls 20% of the retail egg market, reported quarterly product sales up 110% and gross earnings up more than 600% over the same quarter in the prior fiscal calendar year, according to a late December submitting with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The enterprise pointed to lowered egg source nationwide because of to avian flu driving up price ranges as a explanation for its file profits. The organization has experienced no optimistic avian flu exams on any of its farms.

US egg production was about 5% lessen in Oct in contrast to past year, and egg inventories ended up down 29% in December in comparison to the starting of the year, the newest USDA info shows – a major drop, but a single that may not reveal record- higher costs, claimed Basel Musharbash, an lawyer with Farm Motion.

“We want the FTC to dig in and see if people are staying price tag gouged,” Musharbash mentioned.

The FTC declined to comment.

In a assertion, Cal-Maine explained that greater generation charges, along with avian flu, have been contributing to bigger charges.

The American Egg Board, an egg advertising and marketing team, mentioned in a assertion that egg selling prices mirror a range of components and that wholesale egg selling prices are commencing to fall.

Just about 58 million chickens and turkeys have been killed by avian flu or to command the distribute of the virus since the commencing of 2022, largely in March and April, in accordance to USDA. The earlier biggest outbreak, in 2015, killed 50.5 million birds.

Cal-Maine shares have fallen in modern months right after climbing just about 50% last year.

Reporting by Leah Douglas Editing by Monthly bill Berkrot and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

Leah Douglas

Thomson Reuters

Washington-based award-profitable journalist covering agriculture and vitality such as levels of competition, regulation, federal businesses, company consolidation, environment and weather, racial discrimination and labour, beforehand at the Food items and Natural environment Reporting Community.

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