Prepack, baby cos on trend for lettuce consumers

There’s a good amount of open field lettuce growing for Australian producers, and still a very good market for iceberg lettuce with consumers, according to Josh Mellor of Perfection Fresh. “When looking at prices iceberg is a commodity, the price is going to fluctuate,” he says. “Whilst iceberg is still popular, there is a clear trend towards other varieties and packaged lettuce. But I think Iceberg's best is yet to come!” 

Flavor and shelf life are high on the agenda and the market is constantly seeking improvements. Value for money is also important, which whole heads can deliver through leaf density. “We work very closely with suppliers and seed companies to offer these attributes to our customers.” Baby Cos 2 pack is one of the lettuce industries major success in recent times, and was pioneered in Australia by Perfection Fresh. It was originally marketed as a proprietary line; however, whilst still growing in volume and popularity, it is now a commodity line.

There is pressure to lower prices for South Australia producer Graeme Pitchford, who produces twin pack baby cos lettuce, both red and green, for major supermarkets. “We probably send off 1,000 boxes, each with 10 twin packs of either red or green baby cos per week during the quieter time,” he says. “But from November through to April when it’s warmer we do up to 2,000 boxes per week.” 

The competition around commodity lettuces means prices can go down to $10 per box, which is pretty low, according to Mr Pitchford. Larger producing states such as Queensland and Victoria also send a lot to the wholesale markets, which is good for consumers, he adds.

The last 12 months have seen growing conditions in South Australia vary from dry and windy to cold and wet, which can affect growing times on open field crops, according to Mr Pitchford. “In spring time we can be prone to get some tip burn, but so far this year it’s been ok. It happens when growing times are quick.” Pests such as the Rutherglen bug are sometimes an issue, because Integrated Pest Management does not easily control them, he adds. “Just one live insect in a bag can affect things with the supermarkets.”

For more information

Graeme Pitchford
Pitchford Produce
Phone: +61419847081

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