Red / Yellow / Orange Bell Peppers

Why are these colorful peppers so much more expensive than their green brethren? My local groceries often see the brighter varieties of bell peppers for approximately $1.50 each while the green ones go for about a third that price.

I have a couple of theories but no real idea as to what the deal is with the higher price.

Theory #1
I think* that all shades of bell peppers come from the same plant but the red / yellow / orange / etc. colors come from letting the green ones ripen longer. This may be more labor intensive and produce less peppers as you have to keep the pests away for a longer period of time and have to wait to harvest until they are just the right shade. This would make them more expensive to produce and therefore more expensive to buy.

** Theory #2**
Before these other shades were common, they were sold at a higher price as a “gourmet” type of produce. Available on a limited scale and pricier than the common green variety. As production increased the prices remained the same because this allows even greater profit. Production costs go down but you still charge the same “gourmet” price.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

Theory #1 is just about right.

Immature peppers are green. As the peppers ripen, the color changes. The longer you leave the fruit on the plant, the fewer peppers the plant will produce. Low yield = greater cost to produce = higher price. Here’s an article form Purdue Horticulture that explains it in a little more depth.

Thanks evilhanz!

A pepper plant will have a specific color that the fruit will ripen into. A plant that produces orange peppers will not produce yellow ones that turn orange, then red or vice versa. They change from green to their final color. The earlier poster was correct that the immature peppers are the green ones that you get in the grocery store. The orange, yellow and red ones have a far better flavor as they have fully ripened.
If anyone reading this is a gardener and is tempted by the “chocolate” peppers you see at the nursery, don’t bother with them. I’ve grown them twice and they are smaller, and the purple color fades to green when you cook them. Purple bells are excellent though, however you don’t get many mature peppers that way.

All of the above responses, while true enough, miss one point. I am almost certain that unripe peppers (as with most unripe fruit) will have a longer shelf life. So there is also more wastage with the red, etc., peppers.

And Mangetout’s Handy Hijack Hint™:
If you’re buying red peppers for salads, go ahead and buy the nice firm, crisp ones, but if you’re planning to cook them, look for the darker ones and even better if they are soft and slightly wrinkled (as long as there are no bruises or mushy bits); the flavour will be better.