Lettuce is a billion-dollar business at the retail level and is a staple in many homes. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for growth. Consumers are buying more leaf lettuce and less iceberg, so make sure your produce department is keeping up with changing consumer tastes.
- Lettuce, especially leaf lettuce contains a host of nutrients that can help keep you healthy. Eating leaf lettuce can help keep your eyes and skin healthy because it contains vitamin A. Leaf lettuce is a good source of folate, which can help prevent birth defects. Beta-carotene is found in many leafy greens. Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer, heart disease and cataracts. Lettuce also contains iron, which can help prevent anemia.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for iceberg lettuce: fat-free, saturated fat-free, very low sodium, cholesterol-free, and low in calories. The following have been approved for leaf lettuce: fat-free, saturated fat-free, low in sodium, cholesterol-free, low in calories, high in vitamin A and a good source of folate (add 15% folate to label.)
- Lettuce’s versatility makes it a great option for cross-merchandising. Try some of these pairings: salad dressing, croutons, bacon crumbles, bacon, tomatoes and sandwich fixings.
- Lettuce is available year-round. Include it in promotions from winter to fall.
- Fall: Include lettuce in tailgate promotions as it is a popular topping for burgers.
- Winter: Don’t forget to offer lettuce as a holiday promotion. Many holiday meals aren’t complete without a salad. Add lettuce to post-New Year’s promotions aimed at health-conscious consumers. Encourage consumers to create lettuce wraps instead of using bread for sandwiches.
- Spring: Include lettuce in Easter and Mother’s Day promotions to encourage consumers to add a salad to their holiday. Include lettuce in Cinco de Mayo promotions.
- Summer: Lettuce is a natural addition to grilling promotions as no BBQ is complete without toppings for the burgers.
- Consider a package pricing promotion by offering several varieties of lettuce for one price.
- Include plenty of variety in your display. Some good options include green leaf, red leaf, iceberg and butterhead. Make sure varieties are clearly labeled.
- Unpackaged lettuce needs to be misted to keep it looking fresh. Remove any wilted product from your display immediately.
- Make lettuce the centerpiece of your salad vegetable display. Create color contrast by placing carrots, tomatoes and lemons on the sides of your lettuce display.
- Lettuce is an obvious staple on the salad bar. Create visual interest on the salad bar by cutting lettuce into different shapes, such as chunks, rafts, wedges or shreds.
- Add lettuce wraps to your menu to attract the carb-conscious consumer.
- Mix several varieties of lettuce together in a salad. The different colors and flavors create visual as well as taste interest.
- Garnish a plate with a large piece of leaf lettuce.
- Use lettuce as a topping for sandwiches and burgers.
In The Backroom
Iceberg 50-lb. cartons, 18-, 24- and 30-count 44-lb. cartons 46-lb. cartons, naked 30-lb. cartons 38-lb. cartons, trimmed 20-lb. cartons, 15- and 16-count RPC 6416, 6428, 6432 Boston 22-lb. 11⁄9-bushel crates 20-lb. cartons/crates, 24-count 10-lb. flat cartons/crates 5-lb. baskets/cartons, 12-quart Bibb 10-lb. flat cartons/crates 5-lb. baskets/cartons, 12 quart 5-lb. baskets, greenhouse Loose leaf (red leaf and green leaf) 25-lb. cartons/crates 22-lb. cartons, 24-count 20-lb. 4⁄5-bushel crates 14-lb. 11⁄9-bushel crates 10-lb. baskets/cartons, 24 quart 3-lb. cartons 2-lb. cartons Processed iceberg 20-lb. cartons (chopped) 30-lb. cartons (chopped or cleaned/cored) 1,000-lb. bins, bulk Fresh-cut foodservice packs 20-lb. cartons, 4 5-lb. or 2 10-lb. poly bags Cored-and-trimmed foodservice packs 6 heads per bag, 4 bags per carton Cleaned-and-trimmed foodservice packs 6 heads per bag, 4 bags per carton Cleaned-and-trimmed and cleaned-and-cored foodservice packs 24 or 32 heads per case Leaf lettuces, such as butterhead 6-, 12- and 24-count cartons, naked or polyliner, and 4 by 6 leaf pack. Chopped product is about 1½ by 1½ inches. Shredded includes 1⁄8-wide by 2 to 3 inches long, and ¼ -, 3⁄8- or ½-inch wide by 1½ to 2¼ inches long. Leaf lettuce fillets come in 10-lb. cartons. Operators can also order lettuce prepared in a salad mix with other vegetables, including carrots, red cabbage and romaine lettuce.
U.S. Fancy U.S. No. 1 U.S. No. 2 Greenhouse leaf lettuce is subject to the grades U.S. Fancy and U.S. No. 1.
Temperature: 34 to 36 F, 1 to 2 C Relative humidity: 90-100% Mist: lightly (do not mist wrapped heads) Typical shelf life: 14 to 21 days; fresh-cut, 14 days Ethylene sensitive (Do not store or transport ethylene-sensitive items with commodities that produce ethylene.) Highly sensitive to freezing injury. (Likely to suffer injury by one light freezing.) Perforated plastic film wrapped around the heads can help maintain humidity levels. Don’t place lettuce cartons directly in front of the cooler’s fans because that will result in rapid dehydration.
- 59% of consumers said they purchased lettuce in the past year.
- 89% of shoppers who bought lettuce said they ate it as part of a salad.
- Women were 18 percentage points more likely to buy lettuce than men.
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