Minnesota: Sparboe Farms tripled prices at beginning of pandemic, must donate more than a million eggs to combat hunger
The state of Minnesota has settled a lawsuit against Sparboe Farms, based in Litchfield. The egg producer is accused of tripling its prices in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic, when demand rose sharply. According to the state, Sparboe was not able to offer information to justify the price increases.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced the settlement Monday.
The lawsuit the state filed Sept. 3 alleged that Sparboe Farms tripled its egg prices in March 2020, when demand increased.
Sparboe allegedly increased its prices in violation of a state executive order banning price gouging . In addition, the suit alleged that the company was unable to show increased costs to justify the price increase.
Sparboe has agreed to donate 90,000 dozen eggs, which is more than 1 million eggs, to combat hunger and food insecurity. The donations will be made over 18 months to nonprofit organizations throughout Minnesota and must be of the same quality as the eggs it provides to retail outlets.
Sparboe will assume all costs related to the donation. The company will provide progress reports of the donations at the state’s request and provide certification when the donation is complete.
“This resolution both holds Sparboe accountable and serves the public interest by ensuring that one million eggs are provided to Minnesotans who need them most,” Ellison said in a news release.
Minnesota is one of 11 states that does not have a law against price gouging.
Ellison said in the release that he has supported an anti-price gouging law, but it hasn’t been adopted by the Legislature.
The Sparboe settlement is the second involving a Minnesota egg producer. In April 2020, Forsman Farms of Howard Lake agreed to re-invoice past orders and to cap its prices according to an assurance of discontinuation reached with the state.
Under the authority of the executive order banning price gouging, Ellison’s office investigated more than 2,600 complaints of price-gouging during the peacetime emergency which lasted from March 21, 2020, to July 1, 2021. In addition to the two settlements with the egg farms, five other agreements were reached with businesses, according to the release.