Robust Demand for Salad Kits and Organic Food Drives the U.S. Lettuce Market
IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Lettuce And Chicory – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.
During the pandemic, demand for lettuce in the HoReCa sector fell but was offset by growth in sales to the retail segment. The balance between supply and demand on the market was maintained due to a large lettuce harvest in 2020, an increase in imported supply, and a decline in exports. This enabled prices to remain stable. For the past five years, the share of organic lettuce on the market doubled, reaching 7% and will continue to grow.
Key Trends and Insights
In the U.S., 2020 was the year of the harvest for leaf lettuce and Romaine lettuce. According to the USDA, production grew by 25% and 11% y-o-y, respectively, while iceberg lettuce production decreased by 8% due to hot weather conditions.
During the pandemic, demand for leaf lettuce in the HoReCa sector fell but was completely balanced out by increased sales in the retail segment. Pre-packaged lettuce was in high demand from households amid lockdowns and the related trend towards increased home cooking. Salad kits with various flavors, herbal aromas and seasonings have been strengthening as a promising trend in the food industry.
Imported lettuce also enjoyed high demand. In 2020, the amount of lettuce and chicory imported into the country rose by 3.1% y-o-y to 376K tonnes. Mexico remains the dominant supplier of lettuce to the U.S., fulfilling 91% of deliveries. Canada provides 8.5% of the total supply, and these two countries nearly cover the entire demand for imported lettuce.
For the past five years, the share of organic lettuce on the American market doubled, reaching approximately 7%. The heightened attention to healthy eating habits is to keep the increase in organic food consumption buoyant throughout the mid-term.
The average retail price for lettuce in 2020 was $0.72 per kg for non-organic and $1.08 per kg for organic. It is forecast that as of yearend 2021, the average price for non-organic lettuce will not surpass 2020 levels, while the price for organic lettuce will slightly increase due to high demand and growing popularity of organic food.
The main driver for market expansion will be due to increased consumption from the growing U.S. population. Further increases in demand for lettuce will be boosted by the HoReCa segment returning to work upon lifting COVID restrictions. Rapidly developing home food-delivery services on the backdrop of the suburb construction boom should also contribute to the market growth.
U.S. Lettuce and Chicory Production
Lettuce and chicory production in the U.S. amounted to 3.6M tonnes (IndexBox estimates) in 2020, standing approx. at the previous year. In value terms, lettuce and chicory production totaled $6B in 2020. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +1.4% from 2012 to 2020; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period.
U.S. Lettuce and Chicory Imports
In 2020, lettuce and chicory imports amounted to $424M in 2020.
Mexico ($369M) constituted the largest supplier of lettuce and chicory to the U.S., comprising 87% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Canada ($50M), with a 12% share of total imports.
In 2020, the average lettuce and chicory import price amounted to $1,128 per tonne, with an increase of 5.6% against the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major supplying countries. In 2020, the country with the highest price was Canada ($1,545 per tonne), while the price for Mexico stood at $1,079 per tonne.
Source: IndexBox Platform