US egg producers have teamed up to artificially inflate the price of eggs by cutting the number of hens and increasing exports, a lawsuit has alleged.

US retail co-operative Associated Wholesale Grocers and Kansas-based retailer Four B Corp. are among five retail groups that have filed the suit accusing egg producers and industry groups of “anti-competitive conduct”.

The lawsuit alleges that egg producers, which include Cal-Maine Foods and Land O’Lakes, restricted the supply of eggs to artificially inflate prices.

“These coordinated efforts, which was enforced by powerful industry trade groups, decreased the supply of eggs in the United States and dramatically increased the prices of shell eggs and egg products,” a statement issued today (12 January) read.

Patrick Stueve, a partner with Kansas City-based law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson, which is representing the retailers, said the alleged action led consumers to pay “significantly higher” prices for eggs.