Rising consumption of carrots over the past century influenced by fresh-cut technology

This is a line graph showing the U.S. fresh carrot availability per capita, from 1919 to 2022f

Fresh carrot per capita availability—a proxy used for per capita consumption—has trended upward over the past century, increasing from 2.2 pounds in 1919 to a projection of 8.8 pounds in 2022. Driven by rising fresh-market use, long-run consumer interest in carrots has been strong in the United States. In particular, during the past 35 years, the U.S. carrot industry was transformed by fresh-cut technology, which introduced baby and other fresh-cut carrot products. Per capita availability of fresh carrots peaked in 1997 at 14.1 pounds during the initial introductory period of fresh-cut products. Despite the widespread appeal and convenience of fresh-cut products, after the 1997 peak, availability of all fresh carrots trended downward. This drop may have reflected reduced demand for whole (heavier-weight) carrots, as lighter pre-packaged fresh-cut products shifted demand. It is also plausible the maturation of the fresh-cut industry fostered increased production and processing efficiency within the industry, reducing packinghouse waste and requiring fewer acres and raw carrot production. After 2009, the trend in fresh carrot availability reversed and slowly increased as the general economy recovered from the 2008 Great Recession and consumers had more disposable income. During the 5-year period of 2015–19, per capita availability of fresh carrots returned to the average of 8.9 pounds observed in 2000–04. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Vegetables and Pulses Outlook, November 2021.

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