Back in January and February, the Fort Hamilton Army commissary was able to get eggs for just about $1 a dozen from Hillandale Farms, however, as the shutdown was announced across the city, the price for eggs tripled. The dozen white extra-large eggs cost $1.18 on March 11, by April 8 the cost went up to $3.23 a dozen.
Today New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Hillandale Farms for allegedly illegally gouging the prices of eggs during the coronavirus pandemic. Hillandale is one of the largest producers and wholesale distributors of eggs in the USA.
Fort Hamilton Army Commissary was not the only customer charged illegally high prices in March and April of 2020 by Hillandale, AG James alleges in the suit. Hillandale, a company based in Ohio and Pennsylvania, raised its prices similarly on eggs sold to Stop & Shop, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Associated Supermarkets, across Brooklyn and elsewhere, the suit alleges.
In all, Hillandale gouged the prices of more than four million cartons of eggs sold to major grocery store chains, charging up to four times the pre-pandemic price for one carton of eggs, and in just those two months made $4 million from the unlawful increases in the price of eggs.
The Attorney General’s Office investigated Hillandale after receiving complaints from consumers about the high prices of eggs at grocery stores, which had to raise prices as their costs multiplied, and is seeking restitution.
“As this pandemic ravaged our country, Hillandale exploited hardworking New Yorkers to line its own pockets,” said AG James.
A Western Beef store customer complained to AG that the retail price for a dozen Hillandale eggs had increased to $5.49, stating, “This location serves low income families who, due to the current pandemic emergency, have most likely lost what little income they have. Disgraceful!”
The lawsuit alleges that Hillandale has raised its prices not because of increased costs, but simply to take advantage of higher consumer demand during the pandemic. In May 2020, AG James sued Quality King Distributors of Long Island for price gauging Lysol disinfectant products it sold to retail stores in New York.