New York Attorney General Letitia James today secured 1.2 million eggs for food banks around the state, as part of a settlement against a prominent egg producer that illegally price gouged eggs early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
James brought a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms Corporation, one of the country’s largest producers and wholesale distributors of eggs, last August. According to the suit, as the pandemic was sweeping through New York in March and April, Hillandale allegedly gouged egg prices that it sold to grocery chains, military facilities, and wholesale food distributors throughout New York.
At the Fort Hamilton Army commissary, for example, a dozen white extra-large eggs cost $3.23 on April 8th, up from $1.18 on March 11. The Ohio and Pennsylvania-based company similarly raised its prices on eggs sold to Stop & Shop, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Associated Supermarkets in Brooklyn and elsewhere.
James’s office argued in the suit that the increase constituted a violation of New York’s anti-price-gouging law. The office alleged that Hillandale made millions from the illegal price increase, and that many of the overpriced eggs were sold in grocery stores in low-income communities.
As part of the settlement, Hillandale will refrain from any further excessive pricing of eggs, and will donate 1.2 million eggs—100,000 cartons—to food banks around the state. The food banks will in turn distribute the eggs to food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters.
“As New Yorkers scrambled to stock up on food, one of the nation’s largest egg producers raised prices to unprecedented levels and made it harder for New Yorkers to feed their families,” James said in a statement announcing the settlement.
“Hillandale may have run afoul of our state’s price gouging laws and hatched a plan that targeted our state’s most vulnerable in its darkest hour, but, today, we’re delivering 1.2 million eggs to feed hungry New Yorkers and make things right.