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Lettuce fans tossed by soaring prices, leading to expensive salads, substitutions

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As food prices soar in Canada, Quebec restaurateur Michael Golayeb says restaurant workers have two options for staying above water.

But Ghorayeb said recent eye-popping prices for lettuce forced him to choose a third option. To remove it from the menu entirely.

“Prices fluctuate too much,” said the owner of Chateau Gay’s BLVD Bar & Grill on Montreal’s South Shore.

Some parts of Canada are running out of lettuce, and drought and crop diseases have impacted supplies from California, costing them much more than usual.

Ghorayeb says he used to buy 24 heads of lettuce for about $50. Now the price of the same order from the supplier is more than four times he is $220.

“So with this kind of price increase, if you shave a little bit of iceberg lettuce and put it on a burger, it’s going to cost you almost $1 per serving. It’s completely out of control,” he said. .

tip of the iceberg

Golayev is not the only victim of plant shortages.

Whether you’re in the market for lettuce heads, bags of romaine hearts, or salad kits, stores across the country are displaying lettuce shortage warnings, which is driving up prices.

Munther Zeid, owner of Winnipeg grocery store chain Foodfare, urges customers to be patient, as you never know when an item will be back on the shelves.

“If you order a case or two, you get nothing. If you order five, you might get one,” he said.

Some Canadian restaurant chains, including Subway, Harvey’s and Wendy’s, have also been affected by the shortage and have warned customers on their websites of the potential impact in some locations.

See | Reports of Lettuce Prices Rising on Supply Problems:

Crop diseases, supply chain problems send lettuce prices skyrocketing

Parts of Canada are experiencing lettuce shortages, affected by drought conditions and disease from California, costing them much more than usual.

Sylvain Charlevoix, head of the Agri-Food Analysis Lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said the problem in Canada, one of the world’s largest importers of lettuce, is the biggest supplier of lettuce, California. He says it stems from state issues.

Charlebois said California crops were hit by drought in September and October, the same weather conditions that halted the sale of sriracha hot sauce this summer.

But this fall, the lettuce also got sick and wilted in the fields.

“So production and sales are down all over the world, including exports to Canada, and that’s the main problem right now,” said Charlesbois.

“So in retail, either prices go up or there is no lettuce at all.”

Portrait of smiling man in suit and tie
Sylvain Charlevoix, director of Dalhousie University’s Institute for Agro-Food Analytics, expects prices to approach normal as early as December when new crops from Arizona arrive. (Courtesy of Sylvain Charlebois)

These reasons should be well thought out at the grocery store.

“Everything is so expensive, paying $8 or $8.99 for an iceberg. It used to be $2.99. It’s crazy,” said George Sousa, a Montreal shopper.

He says it led to him changing his cooking habits.

Meanwhile, the same goes for another Montrealer, Joan Reggae, who is picking out other leafy greens.

“At that price, I don’t buy lettuce. I might use spinach instead,” she said. We use the green of

Salad day is back

Charlevoix says the lettuce shortage is “certainly one good case study” of how climate change is impacting our diets.

“Viruses that have affected crops would not normally exist without climate change,” he said.

But this year, he says, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Charlevoix expects prices to return to normal in December when Arizona takes over and begins exporting its latest crop to Canada.

“As long as there’s no recall, vacations will be fine,” he said.

For now, restaurateurs like Ghorayeb say they plan to use mixed salads and other vegetables, such as kale, in their salads.

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