What We Know About The Impending Lettuce Shortage

You may have already noticed the signs on grocery store shelves limiting the amount of bags of lettuce that can be purchased. A lack of lettuce didn't happen overnight, according to Growing Produce, which said that high temperatures and disease have affected the amount of iceberg and romaine varieties of lettuce that are being harvested in central California. That's on top of farmers growing less lettuce, reports Insider, because it was deprioritized during the pandemic. 

The lettuce shortage is adding insult to injury, as rising costs across the board have already put a pinch on restaurants. At the end of October, a box of iceberg lettuce cost about $67 on average, while it would have only cost $14 in 2019, per Restaurant Business Online. Further away, this summer KFC in Australia swapped cabbage for lettuce on its sandwiches because of the shortage, per CNN

As the world deals with a lack of costly lettuce, restaurants and grocery stores in the United States are also making tough decisions.

Some chains have already sent out warnings

Several restaurant chains in the United States have alerted customers that they may not get tacos or sandwiches with lettuce, per Insider. Both Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A have sent out alerts to customers via their apps about the issue saying that lettuce may not be available at local restaurants. Subway said some locations may not have it available, which is a huge bummer because lettuce is a key textural component in many of the chain's sandwiches. Panera also said it's working with its lettuce suppliers. Restaurant Business Online reported that some restaurants are swapping lettuce for other ingredients or asking customers to pay more to help cover the cost of the increased price for the greens. 

There is hope, however, according to Insider. Lettuce will soon be in season in southern California and Arizona, where disease has not been a factor. As those lettuce crops are harvested, supplies on the market will increase and prices should be reduced.