Lettuce Shortage Forces KFC to Put Cabbage in Its Burgers

ustralia’s facing a lettuce shortage that’s led to soaring prices and even spurred fast food giant KFC to put cabbage in its burgers.

Customers were notified by the company that they will be using a mix of cabbage and lettuce in their restaurants. This was due to disruptions in supply chains after the heavy flooding on the east coast earlier this year.

Australian shoppers have been hit by exorbitantly high prices for simple ingredients like salad in grocery stores. Social media users are venting about the high prices of lettuce and other vegetables, which can cost as much as A$25 per head.

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The 2022 year has been full of shortages in food supplies, including lettuce and poultry. It’s at least the second time this year that KFC Australia has been left without ready supply of key components for some of its most popular offerings. Due to shortages of chicken, it had to reduce its menu.

Abares, a government forecaster, says that the sticker shock experienced by Australian fruits and veggies is mostly due to extreme weather such as flooding. The country is still struggling with supply disruptions due to pandemics, persistent labor shortages, and access to import machinery.

“In normal times fruit and vegetable prices tend to recover relatively quickly and return to normal as production in other areas becomes available to fill supply gaps,” Abares said in its quarterly outlook Tuesday. “However, in 2022–23 almost all aspects of the supply chain are facing inflationary pressures.”

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As food costs rise, Australia is now a significant agricultural exporter. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has snarled global supply chains and driven up the price of vital farming inputs, such as fertilizer and diesel. A United Nations’ gauge of global food prices is near record-highs.

Abares reports that fruit and vegetable prices rose by 6.6% and 4.9% respectively in March quarter.

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