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Why are Bell Peppers so Expensive vs Other Peppers?

Bell peppers are a staple in most households and found in a huge variety of recipes. But as common as they are, you might wonder why Bell peppers are expensive, and specifically why the red Bell pepper varieties cost more than the green ones?

Bell peppers are one of the most expensive pepper varieties due to their lower yield and longer ripening period. Green Bell peppers are the least expensive as they are the least mature. However, red and yellow peppers spend longer on the vine which leads to higher prices.

In this post we’ll explore why Bell peppers range in price and the science behind this. For instance, did you know that not only are red Bell peppers more expensive, but they are actually much more nutritional? Keep reading to learn more!

Photo of four bell peppers standing next to each other. The four bell peppers are each a different color: Red, Orange, Green, and Yellow
Photo by Mariusz Blach

Why are Bell Peppers More Expensive than Jalapeño and Habanero Peppers?

When browsing the produce section, a clear difference can be seen between Bell peppers and their spicier counterparts. From a farming standpoint, there are several reasons why these sweeter peppers come in at a higher price point.

There are two main reasons why Bell peppers cost more than other peppers:

  • The Yield of the Plant: Most spicier varieties of peppers can be grown at a much higher rate per plant. In fact, some smaller peppers can grow ten times the peppers on one plant. However, Bell pepper plants grow fewer peppers because the pepper itself is much larger.
  • The Time to Ripen: Another major reason is because smaller, spicier peppers often ripen in a much shorter time frame than Bell peppers, which means producers can grow more of the spicier variety in the same period of time. In fact, red and yellow Bell peppers can take several days longer to ripen than other pepper varieties. While green Bell peppers take a bit less time, they can still take longer than a Jalapeño or Habanero.

Next time you find yourself questioning the pricing behind these sweeter peppers, just remember that the overall time it takes to grow and harvest the plant along with smaller harvests contribute greatly to this price. Comparatively, Habanero and Jalapeño peppers can be grown and sold at a much higher rate than Bell peppers, which is why they are relatively less expensive.

What Color Bell Pepper is the Most Expensive?

Going hand in hand with this, you might have guessed that the red variety of Bell peppers is the most expensive, based on the longer growing periods.

In many grocery stores, the yellow, orange, and red Bell peppers will come at a similar price range. This is simply because these are the shades that the peppers become as they reach maturity. Essentially, a green Bell pepper is an immature pepper, and a red Bell pepper is the ripest option.

The price range of Bell peppers will go from green being least expensive to red being the most expensive and other shades falling somewhere in between.

  • Yellow Bell Peppers: This is the first stage of the ripening process that Bell peppers go through, where they begin to turn from green to yellow. Since this is the second stage in ripening it also is the second cheapest pepper offered in most supermarkets. The yellow pepper will be a bit sweeter than a green one.
  • Orange Bell Peppers: This is the next step in ripeness and price, coming in a bit more costly than the green and yellow options. The bitterness is less noticeable, but the pepper is still not as sweet as the red variety. Many note that the orange Bell peppers have a slightly thicker flesh than others.
  • Red Bell Peppers: This is the true top option when it comes to Bell peppers, coming in at the highest in cost. The price for these peppers comes from the fact that they are on the vine the longest, which makes it more likely for them to become rotten or other issues to arise. Also, these peppers have the lowest shelf life compared to the others.

When it comes to Bell peppers, the one thing you should keep in mind is that the longer they are on the vine, the more expensive they will be. If you would like the sweetest most flavorful variety of Bell pepper, you must be ready to spend a few more cents or even a dollar for the red version.

Point of view photo of looking down at a large green pepper being held in a mans  hand.
Photo by The Spicy Trio

What Color Bell Pepper is Least Expensive?

As stated above, the least expensive Bell pepper option that is available in most grocery stores are green Bell peppers. Green Bell peppers are often sold at a higher rate and come at a lower price point. This is simply because they are on the vine the least amount of time.

Maturity of the peppers will highly dictate the overall price of the pepper. All Bell pepper plants begin with green peppers and the color will change with maturity. Since this is the least mature of the pepper shades, it is essentially the least expensive.

Some things to keep in mind about why the price of green Bell peppers are notably lower are:

  • Green Bell peppers come from the same plant as their yellow, orange, and red counterparts. However, they spend less time on the plant.
  • Due to the shorter time on the plant, farmers use less resources to grow these peppers. They are harvested sooner and do not need as much tending.
  • The other shades of Bell pepper are harvested much later and use additional resources, adding to the price. Not to mention, there are more elements that can cause harm to the pepper before it reaches market.

Since the green Bell peppers are harvested sooner, they are more bitter than other shades that are more mature. Though many still enjoy the flavor and lowered price, this is something that should be noted.

Why do Red Bell Peppers Cost More than Yellow or Green Ones?

When it comes to red Bell peppers, they are considered to be the most flavorful and this is because they are the ripest and most mature of the Bell pepper shades. Like most fruits and vegetables, the riper the produce the sweeter and more flavorful they tend to be.

If you have ever compared Bell peppers, you’ve probably noticed that the red varieties are generally the sweetest, although for many there is not a notable difference between the shades that makes the price worth it.

Benefits of Paying for a Red Bell Pepper

In addition to being much sweeter and tastier, there are actually some health benefits of choosing a red Bell pepper compared to other shades. Their additional time spent on the vine increases the peppers’ health benefits.

Some additional benefits of red Bell peppers are:

  • They have 11 times more beta-carotene than the other Bell pepper shades.
  • They have twice as much vitamin C than green varieties, making them a more nutritional option.
  • They have 10 times as much vitamin A than green Bell peppers

It is also important to note that yellow and orange Bell peppers are also more nutritional than green options.

Maturity Equals Price in Bell Peppers

As you can tell, the more mature a Bell pepper is, the more flavorful and expensive it will be. While all Bell peppers start off green, red peppers are actually the ripest and most nutritionally packed. So, if you want to experience a truly ripe Bell pepper, you will have to pay a few cents more for it.