Are Egg Costs Soaring Because Of Price Gouging?

With food costs continuing to be a concern for most shoppers, the longing for relief seems to be far in the distance. Although the days of clipping coupons and scoring great deals might be a memory, the reality is that some advocacy groups are wondering if price gouging is causing those food prices, especially egg costs, to continue at inflated levels.

According to the Go Banking Rates, price gouging is relegated at the state level since there is no Federal law against the suspect business practice. In addition, not every state regulates the commercial practice, but the standard is often measured through the terms of "excessive" or "unconscionable" price increases, which can be applied differently depending on the situation. Although Senator Warren introduced the Price Gouging Prevention Act in May 2022, the proposed legislation was not voted on during the term. 

If the Federal government looks to intervene, the Department of Justice and other executive agencies use the Defense Production Act, but that option is often employed during national emergencies, most recently during the COVID-19 crisis, per National Law Review. Although some people might feel that the soaring egg costs are excessive or unconscionable, proving that standard might be more difficult than whipping up a perfect omelet.

Will Farm Action's plea cause rising egg prices to crack?

In a recent letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan, Farm Action pleaded with the organization to take action to curb the substantial increase in egg prices. Believing that price gouging is at the heart of the high costs, the farmer-led advocacy organization requested the FTC investigate companies who might be employing price coordination or deceptive acts. Although the advocacy group appreciates that the Avian Flu and other factors have impacted the rising costs, it asserts that egg companies' large profits show evidence of potential collusion. The purpose of the letter is to prompt an FTC investigation under its antitrust law authority and potentially see egg prices start to lower.

A recent Time article asserts that the FTC could start an investigation on potential monopolies, price manipulation, and other deceptive practices. At the same time, it states that the Avian Flu, which has caused some of the price disruption, is not fake news. While there are many factors that have caused the rising egg prices, the change may not be immediate. More importantly, it seems unlikely that consumers will get a refund in their wallets for the money spent. While the egg might be an incredible protein source, the cost might continue to be unbelievable.