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$6 lettuce explained: Why leafy greens are so expensive right now in B.C.


Shoppers in the produce aisle of Stongs Market in North Vancouver did a double take on Wednesday when they saw the price of a head of romaine lettuce.

“Well I’m completely shocked at it being $5.99,” said one woman. “I love my Caesar salad, but at $5.99, I’m definitely going to cut back on my salads and eat other things, because it’s getting ridiculous.”

Chopped romaine was even more expensive at $6.99 while a bag of three hearts of romaine was selling for $8.99.

The president of Stongs Market, Brian Bradley, said the rapid increase in the price of both romaine and iceberg lettuce is due to an unprecedented shortage of product.

“It’s a very limited supply out there, which means we have to pay a premium for it,” he said. “As of today, we pay more than $6 for a head of romaine lettuce, so it’s not us trying to take advantage of inflation or anything like that.”

Micky Tkac, the produce procurement director of Burnaby-based online grocer, said his company is also taking a loss on several types of lettuce right now.

“So even though our customers are seeing a higher price than they’re used to, we are actually not passing on the increase to them fully,” he said.

Tkac said produce suppliers are charging grocers more than double what they did four to six weeks ago.

“We just have not seen pricing like this before,“ he told CTV News. “Produce markets are generally very volatile because of supply and demand and weather events and things like that –but this is at an unprecedented level.”

At this time of the year, most lettuce in Metro Vancouver comes from California, where issues with low crop yield and dry weather have created a severe shortage being felt all across Canada.

“I guess when you’re growing a live product that’s part of the risk, the costs can be influenced by weather and so many variables,” said Bradley.

Many Metro Vancouver grocery stores are having trouble sourcing lettuce, and when they do buy it at inflated prices, they’re finding it’s not always high quality.

“Whenever there is a market supply issue such as now, the quality actually gets lower as well, so you’re paying more for lower quality product, unfortunately,” said Tkac.

With a fresh crop from Arizona expected in the coming weeks, Spud and Stongs Market are hopeful the lettuce supply crunch will be resolved by the end of November.

“I can assure you the minute that we start to see costs come down, we still start to lower our retail as fast as we can,” Bradley said. Top Stories

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