Lettuce Prices Soar, In Short Supply Thanks To Cold Weather
Posted April 1, 2002 3:02 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.,C. — If you have spent any time in the produce department lately, you know the price of lettuce has skyrocketed.
State Farmers Market
in Raleigh is known for having some of the best produce and plenty of it. However, shoppers will not find a head of lettuce anywhere in the retail section. In the wholesale section, there is some lettuce, but the price is steep.
Charles Cole has been running Cole's Produce Patch at the Farmer's Market for 30 years. He said that he has always had lettuce, and everything else his customers want, until now.
"I'm just afraid it wouldn't do," Cole said.
Cole said lettuce would cost $52 a box, when he normally pays about $13 a box.
Produce sellers blame the price hike on freezing temperatures in the lettuce-growing areas of Arizona and California. Cole hopes his customers will be patient.
"They ask about it and they might pay it, but it's mighty high," he said. "We'd probably have have to have it at $2.75 a head and that's pretty pricey, we think."
On the wholesale side at the Farmer's Market, buyers can find lettuce. It is just a bit different than it used to be.
"They use a smaller box so they can put a smaller head of lettuce in it so it still fills the box and makes the box look like it's full," said Ron Yokeley.
Yokeley sells produce to grocery stores down east, like Piggly Wiggly and IGA, as well as to restaurants in Raleigh. Right now, his customers are paying four times the normal price for less lettuce.
"It usually has a really hard head, and right now you've got all leaf. They basically are cutting everything in the field because everything is really high and they want the money and I can't blame them," Yokeley said.
The lettuce shortage has been going on for about three weeks. Prices are expected to return to normal levels in the next two weeks, when the weather warms up out west.