Lettuce Remain Calm

Thoughts on the cost of food…

You may have noticed the recent increases in romaine and green + red leaf lettuce pricing from $4.99/lb to $5.99/lb, and wondered what could be causing this? The answer is complex, as it’s the result of a perfect storm of factors.

As we transition from our local and provincial growing season to warmer climates such as California, we are witnessing challenges farmers there are facing. There are only two or three main growing regions for lettuce in California and with the recent drought on the west coast, our suppliers in Salinas, California have been experiencing issues with lettuce quality, specifically on romaine and green + red leaf lettuce.

A new soil-based virus, INSV, is making it so lettuce heads are unable to fully mature before rotting in the field. As a workaround, farmers are forced to harvest early, resulting in much smaller yields and smaller sized heads of lettuce. This has dramatically increased costs. Cases of lettuce we purchase from suppliers have now doubled in price. While we have had to increase the cost on the impacted lettuce, we will be absorbing a majority of this cost as opposed to passing it along as the last thing anybody wants right now is another reason for prices to increase dramatically.

So what are some other great leafy green options? Butter lettuce + radicchio remains a solid option, and if you have a hankering for a caesar salad, kale makes a wonderful alternative to romaine and is still arriving locally from our True Local suppliers. You can also find some fantastic True Local asian green varieties arriving that will deliver a fantastic crisp and refreshing addition to any salad. We are continuing to source as much local or BC grown lettuce as we can, but that supply is coming to an end as we move into the colder months. As always, we will continue to source out affordable options of freshest, and best quality products we can for you.

Please let us know if you’d like to continue to hear more about some of the challenges in the food industry – your Co-op team finds this kind of info fascinating, but we want to make sure you do too!