May 30, 2014
Australia cracks down on alleged egg price fixing

Regulators are cracking down on Australia's egg industry, claiming some of its key players attempted to form a price cartel, Wall Street Journal reports.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed a civil case in the Federal Court against a major industry services body, the Australian Egg Corporation Ltd. (AEC), and two individual egg producers. AEC collects levies from more than 100 egg producers in exchange for services such as marketing and research.

Among its claims are that the AEC, fearing a supply glut, encouraged dozens of members to cull hens and destroy eggs to reduce supply and raise prices.

An AEC spokesman said the group will co-operate fully with the ACCC, but otherwise could not comment because the matter is before the court.
The ACCC has also taken action against two of the country's largest egg producers, Farm Pride Foods Ltd. and privately held Ironside Management Services.

Annual egg consumption in Australia has grown over the past five years, according to a report on the industry released by IBIS World. Demand for free-range eggs in particular is booming, as consumers grow increasingly concerned about animal welfare.

The gross value of eggs produced in Australia in the fiscal year through June 2013 was US$579.4 million at farm-gate prices, up 7% from the previous year, government figures show.