(CMR) Caymanians could pay more for lettuce this holiday season as the price is expected to soar, not only due to inflation but a devastating virus that is taking hold of crops and creating a massive loss of harvest for farmers in the US.
Residents have been questioning whether local stores have been price gouging; however, it has been revealed there are several factors affecting price increases for lettuce.
Lettuce prices have been skyrocketing so much that some fast food restaurants in the US have reportedly decided to temporarily stop serving it.
Experts said prices are soaring because production in the Salinas Valley in California is down significantly because of a virus known as the Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV). The INSV hit the Salinas Valley around three summers ago, causing “wilting, stem death, stunting, yellowing, poor flowering, ‘chicken pox like’ sunken spots on leaves, etches, or ring spots on leaves,” according to Penn State University.
If a plant is infected, that particular crop must be isolated in order to control the virus. However, if the virus is not contained, it can easily spread from crop to crop, causing severe damage to the harvest.
The hot weather in California this summer has reportedly amplified the effects of the virus, making much of the crop unharvestable. Crops including iceberg, romaine, romaine hearts, green leaf, red leaf, butter, gems, and artisan lettuces have all been affected by the virus.
California and Arizona, which have been affected by drought this year, supply 90% of lettuce in the US.
The price of lettuce at grocery stores increased by 8.9% between October and November, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. Lettuce is also 19.8% more expensive than it was in November 2021.