In Australian supermarkets, the cost of lettuce has been driven up by complex factors, including drought, followed by labor and supply chain shortages, floods, and the Russia-Ukraine war limiting exports of fertilizer. While the price is now back down to $2, a planning expert says the great lettuce inflation of 2022 should be a lesson for future Australian food production as urban sprawl causes tension over land.
According to Tamara Prentice, an agricultural land use planning manager at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables were often grown in peri-urban areas because they were highly perishable and difficult to transport.
"The industry predictions are that this is going to be the way of the future, considering the increasingly volatile climate. As production systems adopt new technologies, ag is increasingly looking like an industrial-style development. This results in land use conflict when residents in these rural areas expect to see cows grazing rather than large hothouses. Ensuring planning frameworks have sufficiently modern and accurate definitions can enable different types of agricultural systems to be best located to try and minimize these conflicts."