The retail price of a dozen eggs has shot past $3 in parts of the country during the pandemic, sometimes tripling the bite. That's price gouging, say new lawsuits that ask that the industry give consumers some of that money back. "As in any time of economic turmoil, there are those who seek to profit from the misery of millions," a suit filed in northern California says. Federal figures show the wholesale price for Grade A large eggs went from an average of $1.01 per dozen to $3.07 in March, the New York Times reports. In Texas, one of two suits, filed by the state's attorney general, says the average price last month hit $3.44. Ken Paxton's filing says Cal-Maine Foods, the biggest egg producer in the US, raised prices 300%, which was "exhorbitant, excessive and unjustified."
The class-action suit in California, where per capita consumption is 300 eggs per year, asks restitution for everyone who bought eggs during the state of emergency, when state law limits price increases to 10%. The Texas suits make a similar argument, though state law sets no ceiling. Producers and retailers have denied the accusations. One, Cal-Maine, said it "has not exploited this tragic national pandemic for gain." The company said it even bought eggs on the open market to meet demand. Costco said it filed its own complaints about prices charged by its suppliers. The other Texas suit was filed by consumers, per KXAN, who say they ran into inflated prices at Walmart, Albertson’s and other retailers. Prices have stabilized a bit after the initial run on eggs, per the Times; the federal government expects a 35% price increase overall this year over 2019, to about $1.27 per dozen. (There was an accusation about price gouging on N95 masks.)