If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a head of romaine lettuce these days, it will cost you a lot of cabbage.
The price for a pound of romaine has lately soared a whopping 61% from a year earlier to $3.27 — the highest price since 2006, according to Bloomberg.
That’s the biggest recorded price increase of any food item, including various cuts of meat, whose prices have soared as much as 20% amid labor shortages and logistical snafus at slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants.
In the case of lettuce and other select crops, farmers are purposely growing less because they don’t want to get stuck with excess given the volatility of the market since the onset of the pandemic.
Fertilizer has become more expensive and a shortage in truck drivers means it costs more to transport produce — adding to the financial pressures and risks squeezing the agriculture sector.
“If farmers are on the wrong side of the demand curve, they’re screwed,” Barry Friends of foodservice consultancy Pentallect Inc. told Bloomberg. “If I’ve got to plow it under or dump it on the market for cheap, I have no desire to lose that money. I’m just not going to grow it.’
Inflation has soared to its highest in four decades, with consumer prices jumping by 7 percent for the year ending in December, according to data released by the Department of Labor earlier this week.
The price surge has made other necessity items more expensive. A dozen eggs, which cost $1.48 a year ago, now cost $1.79. A pound of sliced bacon now costs a whopping $7.21 – up from $5.83 at the same time a year ago.
Fruits are 7.9% more expensive than they were during the same period 12 months ago. The price of oranges shot up 8.9% between November and December.
A pound of lean ground beef which cost $5.71 in December 2020 would set you back $6.32 a year later. One pound of boneless sirloin steak that cost $8.98 in December 2020 ended up costing $11.05 last month.
Gas, tobacco products and new and used cars have also gotten more expensive over the course of the past year.