Cauliflower prices spike to $8 a head

Cauliflower lovers will have to spend extra to secure the cruciferous vegetable for their Christmas spreads as a drought in California is causing a spike in the price.

Short supply means vegetable hard to find in Ottawa

The price of cauliflower is $8 a head at some Ottawa grocery stores. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Cauliflower lovers will have to spend extra to get the cruciferous vegetable on the table this Christmas as the drought in California is causing a spike in the price.

John McLean, the general manager of wholesale produce retailer Orleans Fresh Fruit, said he's paying about $70 per case for California cauliflower when a case usually retails for about $20 per case this time of year.

The weak Canadian dollar is also factoring into the price, he said.

The bottom line at the checkout is that a head of cauliflower is going for about $8 — and McLean said the price could still go up as stores look to make a profit from the sale.

"It's going to land in to me at $70 [per case], say. There's 12 heads in a frigging case. Do your math," he said.

Leafy greens such as spinach, Romaine lettuce and parsley are also in shortage due to smaller crops caused by the drought, McLean said.

Splurge or save?

Cauliflower is part of almost all vegetable dishes at Chinatown's Phuket Royal — dishes like pad thai, curry, and stir-fried noodles — but it's now being replaced with other vegetables like broccoli or peppers, said the restaurant's Kung Lim.

"We have no choice. The cost is too high," she said. "It used to [be] $2 something, right, now it's $8 — four times more. That's crazy."

Nadine Lacelle said cauliflower has been so hard to find in Ottawa grocery stores that when she finally found the vegetable, she tossed it in her cart without a second thought.

"I don't even care how much it is — I'm still buying it," she said. "Splurging. It's the holidays!"


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