Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Lettuce, Stupid... Price Of Ordinary Iceberg Hits Stratosphere

I realize that at this time of year, a lot of folks are asking for financial assistance from friends and colleagues... summer camp, tuition, graduation and the like. But since we're close pals here on The Smoking Nun, I hope you won't mind helping a brother.

Would it be too much to ask for help purchasing... lettuce? You see, I don't have an enormous income, and I like both salad & sandwiches. However, today, I almost suffered apoplexy when I noted the price of a head of iceberg lettuce.

A year ago, it was a tolerable 99 cents. Last year, it climbed to a questionable $1.99. Now, a fucking head of everyday greens comes to $2.49 at the local grocery. It wasn't massaged with velvet gloves or spritzed with mineral water. It's not organic. It's just lettuce. Iceberg lettuce. The white bread of veges.

Why has the price more than doubled over the past year? Well, of course, that depends on who you ask. Here are the reports I collected, which explain that it's gas prices; no, it's cold weather; oh, no, it's rainy weather; nope, really, it's because there's less available.

"Lettuce has become increasingly expensive as fuel prices drive food costs higher. A head of lettuce can cost as much as a gallon of gas."

"Lettuce is up because of crop freezes in Florida and Mexico, tripling in cost from $1 to $3 per pound."
"The lettuce market remained red hot as production continues to be hampered by earlier weather problems. The wet and rainy weather in December has combined with more rain to severely limit supplies."

"Both Iceberg and Romaine lettuce were trading for more than $30 per carton, with prices occasionally spiking near $40 for specific sizes and SKUs. The high prices of the past month have caused growers to cut their fields a bit prematurely, which has resulted in decreased yields (because of smaller heads) and continues to fuel the shortage problem."

"Consumers are seeing vegetable prices fall to the same levels as before the floods. Broccoli, cauliflower, pumpkin and lettuce prices have all come down. Lettuce was selling in January for $20 a carton, and now the wholesale price is about $12 a carton."

In other words, stores are charging more for lettuce because they want to. And the consumer, as usual, is screwed.