The real winner from the romaine E.coli outbreak: Iceberg lettuce

While many U.S. romaine lettuce growers and sellers are still reeling from the aftermath of an E.coli outbreak that caused a national warning days before Thanksgiving, other leafy greens are celebrating.

According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture, prices for iceberg, Boston lettuce and others soared after the outbreak was announced.

Prices rose so much that the cost of a 24-count carton of iceberg lettuce increased anywhere from 168 percent and 119 percent during romaine’s outbreak period.

For example, one day before the warning was issued, iceberg lettuce sold for $16.56 to $20.85 per carton. Days later, the price had climbed to $44.35 to $45.65, according to USDA’s National FOB Review, which tracks daily produce prices.

While iceberg saw the biggest climb, other lettuce varieties also saw a big bump in price during that time.

Last Friday, nearly a week after issuing the warning, the Food and Drug Administration announced it found the source of the E.coli-tainted romaine lettuce and it is working on withdrawing the product.

The agency’s commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, tweeted that the romaine implicated in the outbreak is likely from California “based on growing and harvesting patterns.”

“The goal now is to withdraw the product that’s at risk of being contaminated from the market, and then re-stock the market [with] new romaine from different growing regions, including Florida and Arizona,” he said last week.

The advisory on romaine has since been lifted and prices on other lettuce varieties are starting to come down.