Strawberries not only taste great on their own, but they’re also delicious in cakes and other desserts.
The fruit has several health benefits as well, which can protect your heart and stave off cancer.
Because of how healthy they are, you may want to stock up on strawberries.
A quick trip to the grocery store, however, will make you aware that strawberries are pretty expensive.
Why Are Strawberries So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
Strawberries can be as cheap as $8 and as high as $14 on average.
Seasonal costs, problematic environments, and demand are all primary factors influencing the high price.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. High Temperatures
Strawberries aren’t always the easiest type of fruit to grow.
As a result, even a slight change in its preferred environment can impact its yield.
This is something that has affected growers in both the United States and Australia.
Australia, in particular, is responsible for producing some packages of strawberries when the harvest is over in the United States.
Since Australia experiences summer while the United States experiences winter, they’re able to start planting and growing strawberries when growers in the United States are more or less done.
However, Australian growers have experienced extremely hot temperatures in the regions where they grow their strawberries.
The hot temperatures have made it difficult for their strawberries to survive.
For one, hot temperatures impact how much water strawberries are able to take from the soil.
When it’s hotter, the water evaporates at a faster rate.
That means growers have to spend more money to water their strawberries.
That influences the price since they need to cover that cost.
The heat can also impact how large strawberries become.
People who buy strawberries at the grocery store tend to want bigger strawberries.
They offer more food.
In baking, they can produce more juice or sauce.
If the heat reduces how large the strawberries become because they’re trying to survive, then growers have fewer large strawberries to sell.
This becomes an issue of supply and demand.
Since there’s less supply and high demand for large strawberries, their price increases.
Strawberries are expensive because of the hot temperatures affecting water costs and berry size.
Strawberries are also expensive because growers lost a good number of them to diseases.
There are several diseases that can affect strawberries.
The problem with diseases is that they tend to affect strawberries when they’re stressed.
Because of the hot temperatures and other environmental factors, strawberries are more stressed than ever.
As such, they’re more susceptible to certain diseases.
Some of the most common strawberry diseases include:
- Red stele
- Powdery mildew
- Black root rot
- Botrytis fruit rot
- Leaf scorch
- Leaf spot
All these diseases affect strawberries in certain ways.
To protect their strawberries, farmers have to spend a lot of money.
For one, they need to buy disease-resistant strawberry varieties.
Some strawberries have certain genetic mutations that make them able to resist succumbing to disease better than others.
Since they’re more resilient, those varieties tend to cost more money.
Farmers will have a more reliable yield, but they’ll need to pay more money to get it.
Another cost is buying specific fertilizer that’s undergone testing.
A disease can sometimes spread through fertilizer.
To ensure their strawberries are safe, farmers need to buy more expensive fertilizer that has undergone testing.
This type of fertilizer ensures that it doesn’t introduce any diseases to the plant.
Finally, farmers also have to spend a lot of time and effort preparing the soil for sowing.
They’ll need to conduct tests to ensure the soil isn’t carrying any diseases.
Then they can plant their strawberry seeds.
Because there’s a lot of effort and cost associated with protecting strawberries from diseases, it means farmers have to sell them at higher prices to make up for those costs.
Otherwise, the strawberries could succumb to a disease.
That means less of a yield and lower supply in the market.
3. Too Much Rain In Australia
Another reason strawberries are expensive is that, in Australia at least, the amount of rain has impacted strawberry supplies.
Rain has affected the supply of strawberries from Australia in a few ways.
The first is that it caused a delay in planting.
Farmers can’t plant seeds when there’s a lot of rain because there’s a risk that the seeds might get washed away.
There’s also a risk that the seeds might drown before they sprout.
To ensure that doesn’t happen, Australian farmers had to wait to start planting.
This impacts the supply of strawberries because it means that, for a few months, some farmers won’t have their strawberries ready to sell.
That results in fewer strawberry products on the market.
With demand as high as ever, they have to make do with the limited supply that’s available.
Another way that rain has impacted the supply of strawberries from Australia is that it’s drowned existing strawberry plants.
Farmers who were able to get their strawberry seeds planted early found that they lost some of their yields to flooding.
The excessive amount of rain either swept away the strawberry plants via the flooding or drowned them.
This resulted in smaller yields than they expected.
Since they have a smaller yield, it means that they’re only able to supply the market with the products that they have.
The price of strawberries increases because fewer strawberries are available for more consumers.
This is a problem that can impact any farmer who grows strawberries.
While it impacted Australian farmers the most recently, it can just as easily occur in other parts of the world.
Excessive rain can increase the price of strawberries.
4. Transport Costs
If you buy your strawberries at a grocery store, the high price you see also includes transportation costs.
Some strawberries undergo a lot of production before they finally arrive at a grocery store.
They leave the farm and head to a factory.
Some get washed while others also get treated with some preservatives.
Some also get frozen for certain food products.
Once they pass through the factory, the strawberries are then sent to a distributor or carrier.
They deliver the strawberries to their final destination.
Each step of the transportation chain adds more cost to strawberries.
Truck drivers need payment.
Their trucks need maintenance.
They also need to get fuel.
Any time there are high fuel costs, worker shortages, or problems with a truck, transporting strawberries becomes more expensive.
To cover those costs, manufacturers have to sell their strawberries at higher prices.
Strawberries are expensive because transport costs can sometimes be high.
5. White Strawberries Have Luxury Prices
While you may be familiar with red strawberries, you may be unaware that there are actually even more expensive strawberries that are white.
White strawberries are more expensive than their red counterparts because they’re harder to grow.
For one, white strawberries obtain their white color by having less exposure to the sun.
Red strawberries spend all day in the sun.
The more sun exposure they get, the redder they are.
White strawberries have to be covered during certain parts of the day to keep them from getting too much sun.
However, because they’re plants, white strawberries also need enough sun exposure to grow healthy.
As such, there’s a lot less yield of white strawberries than there are red strawberries.
White strawberries are a luxury fruit in Japan.
As such, they sell for luxury prices.
A package of white strawberries might cost around $40.
One of the reasons they’re prized is their flavor.
White strawberries are a lot sweeter than red strawberries.
It’s almost like eating candy.
It’s also very difficult to find them in the United States.
You’ll have to find a grower that specifically grows white strawberries to try them.
Because they’re so rare, they’re able to go for extremely expensive prices.
While red strawberries are expensive, white strawberries are even more expensive.
6. Seasonal Costs
A major factor that determines the cost of the strawberries that you buy is the season.
Depending on where you live in the United States, your strawberries might be in or out of season.
They’re considered fresh strawberries when they’re bought in season from local farmers.
Fresh strawberries are the cheapest packages of strawberries since they don’t have any preservatives added to them.
They come straight from a factory, or even a farm, after washing.
When you buy strawberries out of season, like in the winter, then you’re typically buying strawberries from another state or country.
States that don’t experience freezing temperatures can produce strawberries during winter.
However, they’re more expensive because they have to travel greater distances.
They also sometimes pump preservatives into them to make them last longer.
Otherwise, by the time they arrive at your grocery store, they might rot.
These costs make buying strawberries more expensive.
There’s also a lower supply out of season.
When strawberries are in season, you have farmers across the state producing them.
When strawberries are out of season, then you have to rely on your grocery store and its partnerships to bring in strawberries from farmers outside the state.
They may not have as many farmers during the off-season as they do during the season.
Strawberry season in the midwest starts in mid-May and lasts until July.
That’s the cheapest time to buy strawberries.
If you buy strawberries outside of those months, then you can expect your strawberries to be expensive.
7. Expensive Production Costs
Growing strawberries is expensive.
That’s a primary reason they’re expensive by the time they hit your grocery store.
One of the primary reasons behind high production costs is high labor costs.
Strawberries are delicate and often need to get picked by hand.
That means farmers have to employ a large number of workers to pick all their strawberry fields.
Since human workers are slower than machines, it takes more time.
The work is also exhausting.
To ensure they’re able to get workers, farmers have to pay them decent wages.
Otherwise, the farmer wouldn’t have anyone to pick their strawberries for them.
Fertilizer costs, water costs, and pesticides also make strawberries more expensive.
Since farmers want to get as big of a yield as possible, they have to protect and encourage their strawberries to grow.
Disease and pests are two threats that they need to protect their strawberries against.
That costs money.
Dehydration or too much water is another threat.
By the time the strawberries are grown, farmers will have spent a good amount of money on them.
To make up for their costs and earn a profit, they have to sell strawberries at high prices.
8. High Demand For Strawberries
Strawberries are expensive because there’s a high amount of demand for them.
Strawberries are sweet, delicious, and healthy.
They’re an easy way to help lower your cholesterol levels and protect against cancer.
Because they’re so healthy, people want to eat them to help reduce their chances of becoming ill.
Strawberries are also used in several different food products.
Strawberry shortcake is one such example.
Strawberry ice cream, milk, and even cosmetics sometimes contain strawberries.
Because strawberries are in high demand in so many different industries, it means that if the supply of strawberries is low, then the price is going to be high.
Strawberries are expensive because there’s high demand for them in so many different industries.
Wildfires have also influenced the price of strawberries.
Because a large majority of strawberries come from California, when the state experiences a wildfire, you can be sure that strawberry fields are also affected.
While some wildfires might destroy a field, it’s the smoke that wildfires generate that is the real problem.
Smoke from wildfires can make it difficult for plants to receive sunlight.
Without sun exposure, strawberries are unable to grow and thrive.
The result is that farmers either lose their fields of strawberries or they have a reduced yield.
A large number of the strawberries may be too small to sell.
That just ends up being a waste.
Even though the farmers can sell small strawberries to other vendors, they probably won’t get the full amount of money they’d get if they were selling larger strawberries.
Wildfires impact the supply of strawberries coming out of California.
With higher demand for this fruit, the price of strawberries skyrockets when there are fewer available.
A final reason strawberries are expensive is drought.
Everyone from Australia to the United States has been suffering from drought.
Droughts affect strawberry yields because when plants get starved of water, they’re unable to grow.
They die instead or don’t grow as large.
To ensure their strawberries are able to get more water, farmers have to buy it and physically bring the water to their fields.
Droughts can occur for several reasons.
One of them is high temperatures.
When the temperatures are high, less groundwater is available for plants.
In California, it’s even more problematic because low groundwater gets replaced with sea water.
Since sea water has salt in it, it can kill plants instead of nourishing them.
They rely on fresh water.
This then means that farmers have to keep a close eye on the type of water coming in from under the ground.
They may need to take drastic, and expensive, measures to keep their fields safe.
Strawberries are expensive because of the costs that droughts bring to farmers.
Strawberries are a delicious fruit, but they can sometimes come in expensive packages.
Several environmental factors can make growing strawberries more expensive.
Transportation costs and the season in which you buy strawberries also influence the price of strawberries.