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UK - What's With the Price of Lettuce?

Does anyone have a clue why the price of iceberg lettuce is so high? I paid .99 in Tesco today for a fairly small head of lettuce. That's much more than it was in the dead of winter.
Is there a lettuce shortage?

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  1. I haven't bought an iceberg lettuce for a million years (can't stand the stuff), so I have no idea how much it normally costs. Isn't it too early for home-grown lettuce though? We are in the middle of the "hungry gap" at the moment, though, so most stuff is imported.

    4 Replies
    1. re: greedygirl

      Totally agree about Iceberg. Wouldn't want it as a gift. Cos or Little Gems do it for me and is approx. 50p each serving really too much?
      Actually I'll post the vinaigrette we use, which is too good not to share:

      Vinegar: Most important. Pour a little out of a 500ml bottle of ordinary white wine vinegar. Push in about 4 garlic cloves. No need to peel, and the annoying little ones from the middle of the bulb are fine (use more). Add about a teaspoon of dried tarragon and leave the whole to infuse for a couple of weeks. Keeps and gets better for ever. At home we keep a rolling supply going.

      Use this at 6:1 Extra Virgin:vinegar (yes, 6:1, try it!) whisked with salt & pepper. Great base which is lovely as is but can obviously be adapted/added to as required.

      1. re: Robin Joy

        I use about 3 types of lettuce in our salads. Americans of a certain age had nothing to choose from other than iceberg for years, but I don't know why that was. By itself, it's not very good, although Blumenthal has a great iceberg salad on the menu at his pub in Bray, and the dressing really makes it special.

        1. re: zuriga1

          I'm actually a recent convert to iceberg (well, sort of). I've dissed it for years for the reasons as above but I had a brill starter at the Downtowne Grill in Charlottesville, VA, last September. Simple wedge of very chilled iceberg; bacon & balsamic dressing. Perfectly for a hot evening.

          1. re: Harters

            As far as I remember, there is no round lettuce or cos in the U.S. At least there was little of it in ordinary supermarkets. A large iceberg will go a long way, either shredded a bit or as a wedge. Welcome to the club. :-)

    2. It may that the world food shortages are starting to bite (pun intended).

      An interesting article on the subject in today's Observer Magazine - citing a 60% rise in butter price since 2007; 24% in apples and a 250% increase in the wheat used for pasta. Putting two and two together and, hopefully, getting four, it may well that increases in the fuel costs of heating greenhouses and/or transporting the lettuces from Spain may be the significant factor.

      Bet an iceberg wouldnt have been that high in the local grenngrocer, though. Tesco, eh? "Every little helps.......the shareholders".

      4 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        on a similar tip, i cant get over the price of red peppers in tesco either. I usually go to an independent shop in brixton markets, were i usually buy 4 peppers for £1. In Tesco's loose, they were 99p EACH which is absolute daylight robbery! I try to avoid shopping for veg in supermarkets.

        1. re: foreignmuck

          I have taken to buying a lot of my fruit and veg at the local outdoor markets - much cheaper, especially in Kingston where there is competition for customers. It's definitely time for the people to rise up in revolt against all this highway robbery.

          1. re: zuriga1

            I'm with you, June. Off to the barricades.....

            I've been through the market at Kingston when we had a weekend at Teddington a couple of years back. Some of the best quality fruit & veg I've seen anywhere in the UK - possibly EVEN better than Bury market.

            1. re: Harters

              That's high praise indeed, John. My problem is that we only have one car, and it's usually not with me. I can't cart home bags full of things I'd love to take from the market. Lettuce can be heavy!

      2. I thought the same thing when I picked up a head a Sainsbury's last week, though it was a pretty nice specimen. Still, the same head would have been 69p last year. I guess sometimes you've just got to have iceburg for a burger or a tostada.

        I too think we are sort of between seasons at the moment. I was bemoaning the fact there isn't any very nice fruit at the moment. Too early for English strawberries, the apples are done, and the oranges are starting to get a bit sad. Leaves us with pears and bananas. Yuck.

        1. I return to the thread with the awful news of blatant highway robbery in North Cheshire.

          Local Sainsbury:

          - Dutch red pepper ......78p
          - Spanish iceberg.......99p

          Local village greengrocer:

          - Dutch red pepper......90p
          - Spanish iceberg.......£1.70.

          No, that's not a typo. They are charging £1.70 - for a bloody lettuce!!!!!!

          I'm not buying iceberg this week, nor peppers. To the barricades, comrades.

          It tries of the patience of those of us wanting to shop locally and support local traders. It really does. It is hardly any wonder that greengrocers are losing custom (and why there's talk of a Sainsbury "Local" coming to the "village")

          1 Reply
          1. re: Harters

            make a pilgrimage to the unicorn in chorlton and enjoy seasonal organic produce at fair prices.

            the current sicilian agricoop red peppers are absolutely phenomenal; incredibly sweet, crispy full of sugar, no seeds for some reason, odd shapes and deep, deep irregular red. virtually a fruit. unbelievable.

            and not a stupid iceberg in sight although they do seem to like their red & green batavias which taste of nothing. far more satisfying are the loose mixed leaves and flowers with a real variety of leaves which i cant begin to identify including a superb mustard flavoured red green variegated leaf.

            the loose french rocket is the best i have ever eaten.

          2. i love iceberg :) probably its expensive because all the food is going into the sky (prices) all over the world, and UK feels it as well...

            1. Here's an interesting post from another board I frequent.

              "Well, many of you are aware of the phrase ‘dig for gold’; this month we have seen a lot of prices rocket skywards! Those of you who have a few spare square meters in the garden, I suggest you start digging and planting.
              Peppers in particular have been one of the casualties as the Spanish season comes to an abrupt halt and the Dutch are not yet fully underway. Also throw in the odd bank holiday across Europe and the price of the Euro, as mention last month, and not forgetting the rising price of fuel we have seen Red Peppers hitting £30 and beyond. Steer clear! Iceberg lettuce has also been on the up though not as badly affected, along with many types of Tomato. Lollo and Oak still remain stable. The quality of Mizuna and Rocket has been a little inconsistent as the temperature rises in the Med.

              Vegetable prices in general remain reasonable. Much of the quality of the Root Veg is starting to deteriorate as it has now been in storage for the last 6 months. The much loved Purple Spouting Broccoli and Curly Kale supplies will start to dwindle in the coming weeks as the season closes out. Asparagus is arriving in droves from the continent, so the prices and quality remains good. The English main crop is also beginning to arrive in larger quantities, which in turn will ease the prices. Also the Wild Asparagus, though very expensive, is back in season. Be advised the English season will pretty well end mid June. The Jersey Potatoes are also reducing in price and there are some very good Cornish arriving. The larger varieties, Jackets, Maris Piper etc are on the decline and not expected to improve until August when the new season main crop is underway.

              Shallots are another big mover. Prices have trebled in the last few days, one to watch out for! Although Wild Garlic leaf is available at the mo, supply will dry up as the month progresses. Broad Bean and Peas are much better quality of late but still coming from Europe along with Berlotti, although these are on the small side. Wild Mushroom are also running scared! Morrels are still available but expensive. Trumpet, Girrole and Chanterelle are all hit and miss along with Cepe. On the Fruit side things are looking brighter at least! Stone Fruit from Europe is now available, with quality and price improving. Cherries are only available for those with the deep pockets, but should ease as the month progresses. Also Apricots are arriving although a bit backward and on the small side. Soft fruit in the main is pretty good and prices reasonable, there are even some English Strawberries arriving though a little pale and expensive. Finally the old Blood Oranges will be closing out by the end of this month.

              4 Replies
              1. re: greedygirl

                Thanks... interesting reading. I got a 2 for 1 deal the other day at Sainsbury's... Anya potatoes, which I happen to like a lot.

                1. re: greedygirl

                  Great bit of info. If this is something that regularly gets posted on the other board, is it worth telling us its URL?

                  J

                  1. re: Harters

                    Would be great if there was a site that had a live, seasonal fruit and veg update and forcast, maybe even via RSS feed onto your desktop. is there such a thing?

                    1. re: Harters

                      It was a reply to a very similar "Price of Iettuce, WTF?" type post by a chef. He basically posted an e-mail from his wholesale fruit and veg man.