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Hillandale Farms Reaches Resolution on NYS Legal Case
New York Ag Connection - 04/05/2021

New York Attorney General Letitia James secured 1.2 million eggs that will feed New Yorkers still suffering the economic impacts of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health crisis. An agreement signed with Hillandale Farms Corporation, resolves an August 2020 lawsuit brought by Attorney General James against one of the nation's largest producers and wholesale distributors of eggs for illegally gouging the prices of eggs in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the agreement, Hillandale will refrain from any further excessive pricing of eggs -- a violation of New York's anti-price-gouging law -- and will donate 1.2 million eggs -- or 100,000 cartons -- to food banks located throughout New York state. The food banks will distribute the eggs to thousands of food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters dedicated to providing food for New Yorkers in times of need.

"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," said James. "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. New Yorkers can trust that I will always stand up for our state's working families."

According to James' suit last year, starting in March 2020 and continuing through at least April 2020, Hillandale allegedly gouged the prices of eggs that it sold to major grocery store chains, U.S. military facilities, and wholesale food distributors throughout the state -- charging New York customers exponentially higher prices than it did before the pandemic. The lawsuit alleged that during those two months alone, Hillandale made millions of dollars from unlawfully increasing the price of these eggs, many of which were sold in grocery stores located in low-income communities.

Specifically, the lawsuit alleged that Hillandale, a company based in Ohio and Pennsylvania, began raising prices in March 2020, as the pandemic grew to emergency levels. From January 2020 to early March 2020, Hillandale charged Western Beef Supermarket prices ranging from $0.59 to $1.10 for a dozen large white eggs. On March 15, 2020, Hillandale raised that price to $1.49. As the pandemic progressed, Hillandale raised the prices it charged Western Beef repeatedly, eventually reaching $2.93 per dozen -- almost five times the price Hillandale initially charged in January.

Similarly, the suit alleged that Hillandale raised its prices on eggs sold to Stop & Shop, BJ's Wholesale Club, Associated Supermarkets, and at the commissary stores at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and at the U.S. military bases at Fort Hamilton and at Fort Drum.

Last Friday's agreement resolves claims brought by the Office of the Attorney General against all six Hillandale Farms companies in the lawsuit, including Hillandale Farms Corp.; Hillandale Farms East, Inc.; Hillandale Farms of PA, Inc.; Hillandale Farms Conn, LLC; Hillandale Farms of Delaware, Inc.; and Hillandale-Gettysburg, L.P. In addition to ensuring Hillandale ends the gouging of egg prices, the company has committed to donating 1.2 million eggs to food banks across New York state.


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