A detailed report released by the ACCC has credited Old El Paso as being almost the sole reason farmers are continuing to grow iceberg lettuces. The report was the product of an eleven-month investigation into the declining industry, and claims that 93% of iceberg lettuce purchases across Australia are for use in some form of Old El Paso kit box creation. The remaining 7% share was made up of local Chinese restaurants for their San Choy Bow (3%), and old Grannies persisting with the dying art of adding iceberg lettuce to a garden salad (4%).
Regional lettuce farmer Bruce McAlister has noticed a steep decline in the demand for iceberg lettuce over the last 15-20 years. He said “Back in the 80s and 90s, business was really booming. Every kitchen fridge in Australia had an iceberg or two sitting in the crisper drawer. It really is one of the most versatile items of the food world. You can bung it in a sambo, throw it in a salad, hell you can even just eat it on its own – like a giant refreshing apple.”
Since around 2003, McAlister has been somewhat reluctantly producing rocket, baby spinach, cos, and those purplish kind of ones. “Those new fandangled breeds of lettuce are all just weeds in comparison to the good old iceberg. It’s typical of those city slickers, they always want to be cool and hip when really they’re eating the same plant – just with different colours.”
Despite McAlister’s resistance to change, the ACCC report claims that the average middle class Australian family’s brand loyalty to Old El Paso has stunted any further drop in the iceberg lettuce industry. The report’s conclusion goes as far as to recommend that farmers should start drinking Coronas as a gesture of thanks to the good people of Mexico.
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