Hillandale Farms Corp. will donate 1.2 million eggs to New York food banks to settle a lawsuit accusing the company of price gouging grocery stores, military facilities and wholesale food distributors in the state.
New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Hillandale on Aug. 11 2020, alleging that in the early days of COVID-19 the company increased its egg prices “to levels double, triple, and even quadruple the prices it charged for the same products in January 2020.”
The settlement, announced three days before Easter Sunday, was first reported by WATT Poultry.
The publicationquoted Hillendale as saying, “Although it is important to note that the approach to pricing commodity eggs in New York has remained consistent for decades, the resolution of this matter reflects Hillandale Farms’ deep concern about the communities we serve.”
Hillandale initially denied the allegations and said it would defend itself in court.
According to James, beginning last March Hillandale sold more than four million cartons of “price-gouged eggs, causing harm to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New York consumers.”
Hillandale’s New York grocery customers include Stop & Shop, Western Beef, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Associated Supermarkets. It also sells eggs to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Fort Hamilton and Fort Drum.
According to the lawsuit, between Jan. 1 and March 12 of 2020, Hillandale charged Western Beef between 59 cents and $1.10 for a dozen large white eggs. By March 29, Hillandale was charging Western $2.93.
West Point paid $3.15 for the same quantity and type of eggs in early April compared to a maximum of $1.32 during January and February.
James calculated that the more than four million cartons of “price-gouged” eggs generated revenue of approximately $8 million—with at least $4 million representing revenue that Hillandale “illegally obtained.”
Marketing Daily reached out to Hillendale for comment but had not heard back by deadline.
Cal-Maine Foods, the country’s largest egg producer and distributor, also has been under scrutiny for egg pricing. A year ago this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accused the company of price gouging, but the lawsuit was dismissed in August.