Texas AG sues Harris County egg producer for alleged price gouging during coronavirus pandemic

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Thursday in a Harris County court claiming that Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the largest producer of eggs in the country, is price gouging, according to a press release.

The price of a dozen eggs was around $1 in early March but has since skyrocketed to more than $3, though there are no issues with supply or significant disruptions, according to the court filing. Paxton said Cal-Maine is “simply charging more because it can, or, more specifically, because the pandemic caused market demand to jump.”

Jeff Eller, a Cal-Maine spokesperson, disputed the allegations in a statement Thursday and said the company will defend itself against what it called "government overreach into agriculture."

"The domestic egg market is intensely competitive and highly volatile," Eller said. "For decades, we have priced most of our sales off an independent, third-party market quote published by Urner Barry Publications, Inc. We have no control over this market quote and it fluctuates wildly from week to week and sometimes day to day. We have been consistent in our pricing practices whether we sell at a profit or at a loss."

Penalties for violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act include fines of up to $10,000 per violation, plus an additional $250,000 if elderly consumers were affected.