Iceberg and Other Leafy Greens Spike in Price Post Romaine E. coli Warning

Fri. November 30th, 2018
- by Robert Schaulis     

UNITED STATES - The industry is still reeling from an oddly strident announcement by the CDC—advising retailers and shoppers to immediately discard all romaine lettuce just prior to the Thanksgiving weekend. Since then, many have been slow to resume romaine sales, fearing a lack of consumer confidence. Several major restaurant chains—including McDonald’s—have yet to readopt romaine, opting to include other varieties of lettuce in its stead.

According to a CNBC report, prices for other types of lettuce and leafy greens have soared.

In just a few weeks, the news source reported, the cost of a 24-count carton of iceberg lettuce rose as much as 168 percent—from $16.56 to $20.85 per carton on November 19 to $36.65 and $39.56 for that same carton.

Vince Ballesteros, President and CEO, River Fresh Farms“There has been a ripple effect, throwing other markets up as everyone is trying to supplement romaine’s being off the plate, retail, foodservice, you name it—everyone wants to know what we can do to make up for that,” Vince Ballesteros, President and CEO of River Fresh Farms, told ANUK.

Demand for iceberg lettuce continues to outpace supply, and other leafy green varieties like green and red leaf lettuce are reportedly following a similar trend.

Trevor Suslow, Vice President of Food Safety, PMA“As always seems to happen, there is an initial response when you take a major component out of the marketplace and others start to fill that gap,” Trevor Suslow, PMA’s Vice President of Food Safety, told the news source. “Prices certainly have taken an increase.”

Suslow also told the news source that those romaine providers reentering the market in compliance with the FDA’s new voluntary labeling agreement will likewise be able to command a very high price, as demand for romaine remains relatively strong.

“Certainly as romaine is now going to start entering the marketplace for some period of time those that have it, those that are following the new labeling recommendations are commanding a very high price,” Suslow added.

AndNowUKnow will continue to report with the latest.