Fast Food

Taco Bell, Subway and More Major Chains Facing Lettuce Shortage | Arena

Hold the lettuce, please.

Next time you pull up to your favorite fast food chain, your meal might look a little less green. And that’s because many restaurants have been hit with a lettuce shortage, along with shockingly high prices for salad, which is now trickling down to customers.

Chains like Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, and Panera have all been forced to display messages about the shortage, per Business Insider, warning customers that due to the industry shortage, they may be out of the ingredient at certain locations.

Per the outlet, Taco Bell’s rep said that the warning comes out of an “abundance of caution” and that they are currently getting all of their shipments.

Meanwhile, a notice on Chick-fil-A’s app said that “some menu items” may be “prepared differently.” While some restaurants are simply reworking their dishes to incorporate wedge salads, others are reportedly asking customers to pay a surcharge for leafy greens.

Spokespeople for Panera and Subway both acknowledged that lettuce may be “temporarily unavailable” at some locations, while Chipotle said they are currently unaffected by the issue.

The lettuce shortages include both romaine and iceberg lettuce as prices have skyrocketed nearly 400% since 2019. The average price for a box of iceberg lettuce in October was $67, up significantly from the $14 it cost just a few years ago, per Restaurant Business Online.

While restaurants are feeling the effects of the shortage now, the problem actually started during the COVID-19 pandemic, though a recent virus, INSV, which damaged this year’s crop and caused a diminished supply, didn’t help. 

The good news is that there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel as the shortage is set to become less severe by January, at the latest, as batches of lettuce from southern California and Arizona become available.

Lettuce isn’t the only food item that’s in high demand and costing more this season. Ahead of the holidays, USA Today found double-digit increases for most of the dishes that you’d typically find on a Thanksgiving Day table.

The food items seeing the highest increases this season include butter and margarine (32.2%), flour and prepared flour mixes (24.2%), frozen/refrigerated bakery products (20%), canned fruits (18.6%), uncooked poultry including turkey (17%) and frozen vegetables (16.6%). 

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