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Costco, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods Accused of Hiking Up the Price of This Essential Food

The state of California has filed a lawsuit against several big-name grocers.
shopping for eggs

For many, the need to cut costs on the grocery bill is essential, yet it appears that some of your favorite grocers have hiked up the price on what is usually an inexpensive item: eggs.

Costco, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods are among a list of more than 24 grocery chains and egg producers that have been accused of increasing the price of eggs during the COVID-19 pandemic—and California hit them all with a lawsuit.

According to SFGate, the lawsuit was filed last Monday "in federal court on behalf of California consumers claims eggs prices have not only tripled at these stores but that prices have stayed 10 percent higher than they were prior to March 4, when Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency."

Bloomberg Law acquired the suit, which detailed that the cost of eggs has risen by more than 180 percent during the pandemic—enough of a price hike to violate the law. According to California penal code 396, it's unlawful for any person, contractor, or business to sell food at a price that exceeds 10 percent immediately before a state of emergency is declared.

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However, it's possible that these price hikes are also attributable to, as Food Business News points out, erratic consumer patterns. In early March, the demand for eggs and processed egg products surged as consumers stockpiled food. The refrigerated cooler and freezer sections at popular grocery chains quickly became vacant as people hoarded goods to last them for several weeks. Experts in the industry say the demand for several grocery store products increased by 200 percent, and naturally, as the demand goes up, so does the price.

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The USDA said the average wholesale price of Grade A large eggs peaked between roughly $2.91 to $3.06 per dozen during the week of April 3. That's about three and a half times the price it was a month prior. However, that price fell by about 30 percent in the following two weeks, dropping to an average of about $2.09 to $2.24 per dozen. That average price range has continued to drop into this week as well.

The egg supply was never in danger—the price hike occurred from the rampant surge in buying, and delivery schedules had to be rearranged to accommodate the demand.

"Business is not good for our industry," a Midwest egg processor said to Food Business News. "No matter where you are in the chain, everything is turning into losses. People are desperate."

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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