Lettuce shortage regarded as only the tip of the iceberg for supply chain shortages for grocery stores

MADISON, Wis. — Expect to pay a lot more for your dinner salad or this sandwich topping this month. Lettuce prices have risen sharply as part of one of many supply chain issues for grocers.

“It’s been a challenge throughout the store,” said Mitch Eveland, the owner of Capitol Centre Market in downtown Madison. “What we are experiencing are prices that we have never seen before.”

Both romaine and iceberg lettuce are in short supply, and prices are high when restaurants can buy the vegetables. The average price of a box of iceberg lettuce was $67 at the end of October, compared with $14 during the same period in 2019, Restaurant Business Online reported, a nearly 400% price increase over three years.

“Grocers and by extension, their customers have been dealing with this for well over a year,” said Brandon Scholz. As the president of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, he said there are lots of reasons for the increase in prices ranging from supply chain or manufacturing issues to food safety concerns.

Scholz added that local grocers are doing everything they can to make sure supply is kept on the shelves.

“Everybody’s kind of working in unison to try and make sure you could fill the shelf,” he said.

Eveland at Capitol Centre Market said there are ways their store and their customers can still get what they need.

“If you see something that’s a good deal,” said Eveland, “maybe pick up two or two of them so that your inventory at home is a little bit longer to last.”

It’s the hope that maybe this issue could create a greener lifestyle for shoppers.

“If anything, the pandemic taught people to be flexible, to be resilient, to be patient, to think through it taught them how to maybe be better shoppers,” Scholz said.

“If you only need a small amount of lettuce, you can invest less money, and then you’ll probably have less waste at your house,” Eveland said.