Consumer wallets have been hurt by skyrocketing inflation in the US over the past year.
The latest concern is eggs, which rose 138% year over year in December 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 surge for signs of price-gouging by top egg producers.
Various groups, from regulators to farmers and industry officials, have often clashed in recent years over the power of leading agribusinesses to set prices and drive up consumer prices for food.
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The country’s antitrust regulator should investigate the leading egg company’s record-high profits, Farm Action said in a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan on Thursday.
That egg producer is Cal-Maine Foods, which controls 20% of egg retail.
According to a regulatory filing, Cal-Maine’s quarterly revenue increased 110% and gross profit increased more than 600% over the same quarter last fiscal year.
The company cited the nationwide supply of eggs due to bird flu, which drove up prices, as the reason for the record sales.
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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) also cited a record outbreak of bird flu as the reason for the high prices.
According to the USDA, nearly 58 million chickens and turkeys have been killed since the beginning of 2022 due to bird flu or to stem the spread of the virus, mostly in March and April.
U.S. egg production in October was about 5% lower year-on-year, and December egg stocks were down 29% from the start of the year, a significant drop but one that may not explain the record prices, said Basel Musharbash, an attorney at Farm Action.
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“We want the FTC to step in and see if consumer prices are being exploited,” 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 variety of factors and that wholesale egg prices are beginning to fall.
FOX Business has reached out to the FTC for comment.