With the price of lettuce starting to drop this week, the popular vegetable should return to the menus of Canadian restaurants it was temporarily removed from in the near future.
Last week, lettuce made headlines in Canada following reports that it was being temporarily removed from menus. Restaurants like SanRemo Bakery in Toronto, for example, posted their sandwiches on social media behind a sign stating they would have no lettuce. Supplies of green leaf, romaine and iceberg lettuce have been in short supply in California’s Salinas Valley due to a combination of hot and dry weather, which created plants susceptible to diseases, including Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV) which it is observed in large swaths of the Salinas Valley. for more than three months. Additionally, lettuce production is also moving to the desert region of the US, all of which has created record prices. “There would have been a better deal if there hadn’t been the virus,” says Richard Donsky of Etobicoke, Ontario-based Mister Produce. “Normally, there can be bumps when there is a transition, but it was exponential due to that situation. It happened at a bad time.”
While he says lettuce was available, it was priced high and that could be what was affecting food outlets. “Customers safely avoid it, when they can. If they’re not heavy users, then they’re sucking it up if it’s a brief outage. But if they found out from talking to vendors that it was going to last the entire month in early November, they would stop using it or reduce or remove items from their menus,” he says.
Donsky says the availability of lettuce was there, but it was priced high, and that could be what was affecting food outlets.
Prices in processing
This was particularly true of quick-service restaurants that use shredded and shredded lettuce. The supply of those products has been limited and he notes that the price has gone from C$22-C$24 per box to around C$60 per box.
That said, he believes the worst is behind us for the industry, which is hoping that the southern growing areas will be ready to ship volumes of lettuce. “And with Thanksgiving in the US, US stores would have placed their orders last week to arrive this week, so growers, shippers and packers know what their volume is in the South. And they’ll know what’s available to ship here, and they’ll be able to adjust their prices accordingly,” Donsky says.
He notes that prices as of today should start to drop from highs of $140 CDN/box to around $110-100 CDN/box wholesale, though hearts of romaine lettuce could stay higher for a bit longer. “It’s quite a difference from where we were at the start of the week, and it should taper off,” he says. Barring any other disaster, the worst is behind us.
In turn, Canadian restaurants that temporarily removed the ingredient may see a comeback within a few weeks.
For more information:
Phone: +1 (416) 252-9191 extension 10