US: Farm share of retail price of head lettuce rose in 2017

The farm share of the retail price of head lettuce—the ratio of what farmers received to what consumers paid per pound in grocery stores—was 38 percent in 2017, the highest farm share since the 1990s.

In 2017, while the national, monthly average price of head lettuce at grocery stores fell 3 cents to $1.03 per pound, the monthly average price received by farmers rose 12 cents to $0.37 per pound.

ERS’s calculation of the farm share for head lettuce takes into account loss that occurs in grocery stores from spoilage and trimming by assuming that farmers supply a little less than 1.1 pounds for each pound sold at retail.

Farm prices for head lettuce were particularly high during the first half of 2017. Flooding in California, brought on by heavy rains early in the year, delayed the planting and harvesting of head lettuce. California accounts for close to three-fourths of head lettuce production. Reduced supplies of head lettuce pushed farm prices higher, but had only a short-lived impact on retail prices.



This chart appears in “Monitoring Trends in Retail Prices and Farm Shares of Food Products” in the August 2018 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

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