Grocery Stores ‘Grossly Inflated’ Price of Eggs During COVID-19 Pandemic: Lawsuit

April 29, 2020 Updated: April 29, 2020

Grocery stores including Walmart, Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Kroger inflated the price of eggs in recent weeks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new lawsuit.

Amazon.com, Whole Foods, Albertsons, and a number of farms are also named in the complaint.

The class action lawsuit says the producers, wholesalers, and retailers “participated in the price-gouging resulting in a near-tripling of egg prices in the past 30 days.”

Because of the difficulty for consumers to get information on setting prices, the suit asserts that at a minimum, some of the defendants named engaged in price gouging, not necessarily all of them.

The named plaintiffs all purchased eggs in California, where it is illegal to increase the price of a product by more than 10 percent during a state of emergency. Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom declared such a state on March 4.

Epoch Times Photo
A store worker cleans an empty display for eggs inside Kroger Co.’s Ralphs supermarket amid fears of the global growth of CCP virus cases, in Los Angeles, California, on March 15, 2020. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

The plaintiffs bought eggs “at a grossly inflated price,” after Newsom declared the emergency, the suit states, naming each of the 11 plaintiffs.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a dozen conventional white eggs on the national index went from $1.03 on March 20 to $1.32 on March 27. The index price dropped to $0.95 in recent weeks.

Requests for comment sent to Whole Foods, Albertsons, Walmart, Costco, and Kroger weren’t answered.

A Trader Joe’s spokeswoman told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement: “This case has no merit. Even while our costs were rising, we chose not to raise our prices on eggs during the time referenced. In fact, for a period of time, we lost money on eggs because of this. Some basic homework by these attorneys would have shown that our egg pricing was another example of how Trader Joe¹s does everything we can to keep prices down for our customers.”

An Amazon spokeswoman sent a statement saying: “Amazon has a longstanding practice of not commenting on pending litigation, but what I can tell you is that Amazon Fresh remains committed to offering customers a wide selection of products at competitive prices, with the convenience of free delivery.”

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