Experts weigh in on possible lettuce shortage

Experts say the shortage is not primarily a COVID-19 disruption but nature-related.
Experts weigh in on possible lettuce shortage
Updated: Nov. 19, 2020 at 7:57 PM CST
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(KTRE) - Agriculture experts say lettuce losses from Central California could cause a shortage at some grocery stores and restaurants here in Texas, but it’s not primarily because to the coronavirus.

Texas A&M University Professor and Agrilife Economist Dr. David Anderson says the shortage is not primarily a COVID-19 disruption but nature-related.

“The combination of severe drought, the fires, all the ash and a lettuce disease that have cut into some of the crop supply as well,” he said.

Restaurant chains like Chick-fil-A have been warning customers of a lettuce shortage impacting items, but Anderson says despite the fears of a shortage, it’s not all bad news since lettuce like many produce items are seasonal crops.

“Every region has their own little growing season and market window,” he said. While this is one area, some time is going to pass, and we’re going to start sourcing more lettuce from other parts that don’t have those problems. We’re still producing lettuce. It’s still showing up in the stores. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get certain interruptions in certain areas of the country or the world.”

Roger Harkrider is the Vice President for Produce and Floral at Brookshire Grocery Company headquartered in Tyler. He says so far, they have lettuce in stock at their stores.

“We’re not experiencing any disruption in the supply chain on lettuce,” Harkrider said. “Our team works hard every day and stay close to our supply community. We work with very reputable and established growers, and so far, they’re meeting our needs 100%.” It’s just really staying in front of it. Doing our best every day for over the counter service to provide our customers with the things they need every day and especially during these holiday weeks that are upon us.”

“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity to learn where our food comes from,” Anderson said. “I think we will see those interruptions but maybe we will be able to take it in stride more after a year like this.”

Experts say something else to keep in mind are recalls with certain brands and types of lettuce.

To find the latest U.S. FDA recalls, click here.

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