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Pumpkin production in Illinois rebounds, while New York drops further in 2016

Monday, October 30, 2017

With Halloween soon approaching, many consumers spent the weekend searching for pumpkins at the nearest pumpkin patch. Pumpkin production is widely dispersed throughout the United States. All U.S. States produce some pumpkins, but according to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, about one-half of pumpkin acres were grown in six States. Illinois is consistently the Nation’s largest pumpkin producer, the majority of which are used for pies and other processed foods. Record rainfall devastated the State’s pumpkin crop in 2015, but Illinois production rebounded in 2016. All other reported States produce primarily decorative (or carving) pumpkins, and all but New York saw around 20 percent decreases in production during 2012-16. New York production stands out, however, having dropped 50 percent over the time period. While 2017 production has not yet been surveyed, media reports indicate a strong Midwest crop but challenges for some growers in New York and Pennsylvania who were hit with cold, wet weather that is less optimal for pumpkin growth. This chart is drawn from data presented in the ERS Pumpkins: Background & Statistics page.

Americans’ consumption of vegetables and legumes has moved closer to recommendations

Friday, September 8, 2017

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet consume 2½ cup-equivalents (cup-eq) of vegetables per day. A cup-eq of vegetables is generally equal to 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens. The Guidelines include recommended amounts of five vegetable subgroups (dark green, red and orange, legumes, starchy, and other) and advise Americans to consume a variety of vegetables from each subgroup. According to ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data (a proxy for consumption), the average American consumed 1.72 cup-eq of vegetables and legumes per day in 2015—69 percent of the daily recommendation for a 2,000 calorie-per-day-diet—and up from 1.49 cup eq in 1970. While starchy vegetable consumption declined by 17 percent (mostly due to drops in fresh potatoes and canned corn), daily dark green vegetable consumption grew from 0.02 cup-eq in 1970 to 0.15 cup-eq in 2015. Romaine and leaf lettuce and fresh broccoli were the largest contributors, reflecting the growing demand for salads and fresh vegetables. Consumption of legumes and other vegetables increased, closing in on the Guidelines’ recommendations. Red and orange vegetable consumption grew to 0.23 cup-eq per day in 2015, but is still just 30 percent of the recommendation. The data for this chart are from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, updated July 26, 2017.

Processed potato availability has fallen over time

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Processed vegetables make up roughly 44 percent of total per capita availability of vegetables in the United States. Potatoes (including frozen, chips, dehydrated, and canned) are the leading processed vegetable commodity available per capita. In 2016, there were over 75 pounds of processed potatoes available per capita. Since 1970, availability of processed potatoes has surpassed fresh potatoes in the United States. Spurred by the innovation of frozen French fry processing techniques in the 1950s and the increasing popularity of fast food chains, processed potatoes have composed 70 percent of total U.S. potato availability since 2010. The trend for processed potato availability has been sloping downward, however, since its peak in the mid to late 1990s. This gradual decline may indicate that Americans are shifting away from consuming processed vegetables in general. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans cautions consumers from consuming excess saturated fats and sodium. This chart is adapted from a chart in the Amber Waves article, "Newly Updated ERS Data Shows 2016 Production, Trade Volume, and Per Capita Availability of Vegetables and Pulses," released in August 2017.

Per capita fresh vegetable availability has grown from the 1970s to the present

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Decade averages of per capita availability of fresh and processed vegetables show that fresh vegetable availability increased from around 90 pounds per person in the 1970s to a high of almost 150 pounds per person in the 2000s. Although per capita fresh vegetable availability is down slightly in the current decade (data are through 2016), average availability is still well above the 1990s and earlier decades. Processed vegetable per capita availability tells a slightly different story; remaining relatively flat between 110 and 130 pounds per capita since the 1970s. Since the peak in the 1990s, processed vegetable availability has trended downwards. For both fresh and processed vegetable categories, tomatoes and potatoes are the most popular. In the processed category, tomato and potato use have declined steadily since the mid-1990s. Additionally, since 1990, the per capita availability of fresh tomatoes has been steadily increasing, which suggests that some people may be shifting from processed to fresh preparations. This chart appears in the Amber Waves article, "Newly Updated ERS Data Shows 2016 Production, Trade Volume, and Per Capita Availability of Vegetables and Pulses," released in August 2017.

U.S. pulse crops set for another record year for acres planted

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Led by expectations of surging seedings for lentils and chickpeas in 2017, aggregate U.S. area planted to pulse (the dry edible seed of a legume plant) crops is projected to reach a new record high of more than 4.06 million acres. Chickpea planted area is forecast to rise to nearly 500,000 acres, an increase of more than 53 percent compared to the prior year. This production growth is due to its sustained price strength and favorable returns relative to other crops such as wheat and corn. Lentil planted area is expected to expand by 13 percent to 1.055 million acres. In 10 years’ time, lentil planted area has more than tripled, boosted by expanding sales to India and growing domestic consumption, both of which have supported prices and encouraged plantings. Dry bean area planted, exclusive of garbanzo bean (also known as chickpeas) is projected to have a modest increase, up about 2 percent to 1.368 million acres and just slightly below the 10-year average area planted of 1.415 million acres. Dry peas are the only pulse crop projected to have fewer acres seeded in 2017. This chart appears in the ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook report, released on April 28, 2017.

Imports of fresh and processed vegetables make up an increasing share of domestic consumption

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Trade plays a vital part in both fresh and processed vegetable markets, one that has increased over time. The United States imports a larger amount of fresh and processed vegetables than it exports. This is in contrast with U.S. agricultural trade as a whole, which consistently runs a trade surplus (exports exceed imports). In 2000, fresh and processed vegetable imports represented 12 percent of domestic use each. By 2016, the import share of domestic use had increased to over 30 percent for fresh vegetables and 22 percent for processed vegetables. The export market for vegetables has grown at a slower pace. Processed vegetable exports doubled between 2000 and 2016 from 7 to 14 percent of domestic use, while fresh vegetables decreased from 7 percent in 2000 to 6 in 2016. Growth in vegetable and other food commodity imports has been driven by expanding domestic demand and reduced trade costs like shipping and tariffs. Consumer preferences for year-round availability of seasonal foods and for vegetables not commonly grown domestically have also played a role in rising import shares. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers are predominantly supplied by imports, while cauliflower has the largest export share. This chart is drawn from data in the annual ERS Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook tables updated in April 2017.

Annual per capita vegetable and legume availability reached 424 pounds in 2004

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Vegetables and legumes are widely recognized as a good source of many vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. According to ERS’s food availability data, the supply of vegetables and legumes available to eat on a per person basis grew from 328 pounds in 1970 to 424 pounds in 2004. Between 2004 and 2014, per person vegetable and legume (pulses and beans) availability fell by 39 pounds to 385 pounds. Fresh and processed potatoes—frozen, canned, dehydrated, and chips—accounted for 59 percent of the 2004-14 decline. Over the longer period of 1970 to 2014, fresh vegetable availability rose by 20 percent; fresh bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, and cucumbers combined grew by 36 pounds during that time. Per person availability of canned, frozen, and other processed vegetables and legumes increased from 174 pounds in 1970 to 225 pounds in 1998, then began a decline to 200 pounds in 2014. A version of this chart appears in the ERS report, U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014, released on January 27, 2017.

Production of sweet potatoes—a Thanksgiving favorite—is on the rise

Thursday, November 17, 2016

U.S. production of sweet potatoes has increased substantially in recent years, achieving a new record-high of 3.1 billion pounds in 2015—a 4.8- percent increase over 2014’s 3.0 billion pounds. The largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States is North Carolina which harvested 1.6 billion pounds in 2015 and has been responsible for most of the gains in recent years. California, Mississippi, and Louisiana are also notable sweet potato-producing States. In 2014 and 2015, sweet potato production rose by an average of about 6 percent per year, bolstered by growth in exports and domestic demand. Between 2000 and 2015, domestic consumption of sweet potatoes grew considerably with per capita availability rising from 4.2 pounds to 7.5 pounds. The marked rise in domestic demand has been encouraged by promotion of the tuber’s health benefits. Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and vitamin C, and they are an especially rich source of vitamin A. This chart is drawn from the ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook report and the ERS Vegetables and Pulses data.

Six States account for about half of all U.S. pumpkin production

Monday, October 24, 2016

All U.S. States produce some pumpkins but about one-half of the total are grown in 6 States. In 2015, U.S. farmers in those States produced 753.8 million pounds of pumpkins. Production dropped over 40 percent from 2014 with a notable drop in acreage planted in Illinois. In June 2015 there were heavy rains in Illinois that significantly reduced pumpkin harvests. Despite this decline, Illinois remained the leading producer of pumpkins by acreage and output, with almost 80 percent of acres typically devoted to production for pie filling or other processing uses. Supplies from the remaining top five States are targeted toward the seasonal fresh market for ornamental uses and for home processing. In addition to traditional jack-o'-lantern types, demand for specialty pumpkins continues to expand as consumers look for new and interesting varieties such as Big Mack, Blue, Cinderella, Fairytale, White Howden, Knuckle Head, and heirloom varieties. This chart uses data from the ERS Vegetable and Pulses Yearbook dataset.

Record harvested area drives surge in 2016 dry edible pea and lentil production

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dry pea and lentil harvested area for 2016 is estimated by the USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service at slightly more than 2 million acres, a near 34 percent increase from the previous year, setting a new record. This surge is representative of the recent trend in expanded harvested area for both crops. Since 2011/12, harvested area has increased by an average of nearly 24 percent in each marketing year. Rising harvested area has supported growth in dry edible pea and lentil production, projected at more than 3.4 billion pounds for the 2016/17 marketing year. The number of acres planted to dry peas and lentils, and subsequently harvested, is correlated with decreases in prices for other commodities such as wheat, corn, and barley. Since 2013/2014, Wheat prices have fallen more than $3 per bushel, while corn and barley prices have fallen about $1.30 and $1.10 per bushel, respectively. In the same period, dry pea and lentil prices have generally increased, providing incentive for farmers to switch some acreage to dry peas and lentils. This chart is drawn from data reported in the ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook Newsletter released August 30, 2016.

Potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet corn remain most popular vegetables among U.S. consumers

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

According to ERS’s food availability data, an average of 385.4 pounds of fresh and processed vegetables per person were available for U.S. consumers to eat in 2014, up from 334.1 pounds in 1974, but down from peak per capita vegetable availability of 424.3 pounds in 1996. Potatoes, tomatoes, and sweet corn were the three most popular vegetables in 1974 and remained the most popular in 2014. While per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) of potatoes and sweet corn has declined over the last four decades, per capita tomato availability grew from 73.2 pounds in 1974 to 87.8 pounds in 2014. Fresh tomato availability increased by 74 percent and canned tomatoes by 10 percent. Onion availability also grew from 12.7 to 19.7 pounds per person over 1974-2014. In 2014, cucumbers and romaine and leaf lettuce at 11.3 and 10.8 pounds per capita, respectively, replaced cabbage and carrots in the top 7 rankings. Head lettuce was the fourth most popular vegetable in 1974, but dropped to fifth in 2014, perhaps related to the growing popularity of romaine and leaf lettuce. The data for this chart come from the Food Availability data series, part of ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, updated August 3, 2016.

Declining potato consumption driving Americans' falling vegetable consumption

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Americans’ consumption of vegetables has not increased, despite advice to the contrary from the health and nutrition community. A recent linking of ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data with intake surveys reveals that total vegetable consumption fell across four U.S. age and gender groups between 1994-98 and 2007-08, though the decline for women was small. Much of the vegetable decline was driven by reduced consumption of potatoes. Boys had the largest drop; their potato consumption fell from 63.7 pounds (fresh-weight equivalent) per person per year in 1994-98 to 45.2 pounds in 2007-08. Intake of tomatoes—the second most consumed vegetable—held fairly steady for all age groups. When consumption of potatoes and tomatoes is subtracted from the mix, consumption of other vegetables by girls, boys, and men fell, too, but not as sharply as that of potatoes. For women, annual consumption of nonpotato and nontomato vegetables increased by 2.2 pounds per person. This chart appears in “A Closer Look at Declining Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Using Linked Data Sources” in the July 2016 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

U.S. per-capita availability of romaine and leaf lettuce has almost doubled over the last 16 years

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In 2013, 29.6 pounds per person of lettuce and fresh greens were available for domestic consumption, according to ERS’s Food Availability Data. Per-capita availability of lettuce and fresh greens declined by 22 percent from its high of 37.9 pounds per person in 2004. Much of the decrease is due to declining consumption of head lettuce. Head lettuce (iceberg) availability, at 14.1 pounds per person in 2013, has fallen by 41 percent from 24 pounds in 1997. At the same time, romaine and leaf lettuce availability has almost doubled, rising from 6.6 pounds per person in 1997 to 11.4 pounds in 2013. The growing popularity of prepackaged, ready-to-eat salad greens contributed to the rise in availability of romaine and leaf lettuce. Availability of other fresh greens (collard greens, escarole and endive, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens) came in at 2.5 pounds per person in 2013, while fresh spinach availability was 1.6 pounds per person. The data for this chart come from the Food Availability data series in ERS's Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

U.S. pumpkin production and use are growing

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Over the past 15 years, U.S. production of pumpkins for all uses (jack-o-lanterns, fresh and processed food, seed, and other) rose 31 percent, from 1.46 billion pounds in 2000 to 1.91 billion pounds in 2014. The popularity of urban pumpkin patches, fall festivals, ornamental use of pumpkins, and seasonal cuisine have contributed to growing demand for pumpkins in the last two decades. On a per-capita basis, pumpkin use—for both food and ornamental uses—increased 17 percent during this period (adjusted for feed use, shrinkage, and marketing loss) from 4.6 pounds in 2000 to 5.39 pounds in 2014. The ornamental jack-o-lantern has long been the most popular use of pumpkins, but pumpkins are also found in a wide array of food items and beverages, including pumpkin pie, bread, muffins, soup, spice-flavored treats, and seasonal beers. This chart is based on information provided in 2015 Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook.

Potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce make up close to 60 percent of U.S. vegetable and legume availability

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

When consumers are advised in the produce aisle that “More Matters,” they are not just being encouraged to eat a greater quantity of fruits and vegetables, but more variety as well. Restricting one’s diet to a limited set of vegetables precludes the desired variety that would supply more diverse, healthful nutrients. According to ERS’s Food Availability data, just three vegetables—white potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce—accounted for 59 percent of the vegetables and legumes that were available for consumption in 2013. White potatoes accounted for 30 percent of the 384.4 pounds per person of vegetables and legumes available in 2013. Tomatoes had a 22-percent share, with 20.2 pounds per person of fresh tomatoes and 65.9 pounds per person of processed tomatoes. Fresh lettuce (head lettuce, romaine, and leaf lettuce) rounded out the top 3 vegetables at 25.5 pounds per person—7 percent of 2013’s total vegetable and legume availability. This chart appears in “Potatoes and Tomatoes Account for Over Half of U.S. Vegetable Availability” in the September 2015 issue of ERS’s Amber Waves magazine.

Vegetable costs range from 18 cents to $2.58 per cup equivalent

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When it comes to vegetable consumption, “More Matters.” Eating a variety and sufficient quantity of vegetables is important for good health, but how much would it cost to add some baby carrots, romaine lettuce, or fresh asparagus to your diet? ERS estimated average prices paid in 2013 for 93 fresh and processed vegetables (including beans and peas), measured in cup equivalents. A cup equivalent is the edible portion that will generally fit in a 1-cup measuring cup; 2 cups for lettuce and other raw leafy greens. ERS researchers found that fresh iceberg lettuce, fresh whole carrots, dried pinto beans, and 13 other products cost less than 40 cents per cup equivalent, while 58 vegetables, including fresh romaine lettuce, baby carrots, and canned tomatoes, cost between 40 and 79 cents per cup equivalent. Fresh asparagus, at $2.58 per cup equivalent, is the priciest of these 93 vegetables. The data in this chart are from ERS's Fruit and Vegetable Prices data product.

Imports make up a growing share of U.S. fresh vegetable supplies

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

U.S. production of fresh vegetables has grown over the past several decades, but domestic consumption has grown even faster, reflecting an expanding population and higher per capita use. The United States has been a net importer of fresh vegetables since 1969 (with the exception of 1981), and the rate of increase of the share of imports grew notably after 1990. Since 2010, approximately 25 percent of the fresh vegetable supply utilized in the United States has been imported each year. The value of fresh vegetable imports exceeded exports by almost $4.3 billion in 2014. The share of imports in domestic use continues to grow in response to multiple factors, including supply gaps, increased awareness of vegetables as a part of healthy diets, desire for year-round variety of fresh vegetables, and increased demand for new products. Exports have remained a relatively small share of U.S. fresh vegetable production. Average volume exported as a share of production peaked in the 1990s and the share exported to all countries fell approximately 3 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year. Onions and lettuce continue to dominate fresh vegetable exports. This chart is based on the Vegetables and Pulses Outlook: May 2015.

U.S. production of sweet potatoes continues to grow

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

U.S. sweet potato production reached a record high 29 million hundredweight (cwt) in 2014, extending production gains that have continued for more than 15 years. Since 1971, North Carolina has been the top sweet potato producer in the United States, and in 2014 it produced 53 percent of all sweet potatoes grown in the country. North Carolina’s production of sweet potatoes in 2000 was 5.6 million cwt, and by 2014 it had had expanded to 15.8 million cwt. The 185-percent increase in North Carolina’s production has led the growth of the U.S. sweet potato industry, but production has expanded in many other states, including California (where production has doubled since 2000) and Mississippi (where production is up by 155 percent). This chart is from the Vegetables and Pulses Outlook: May 2015.

California drought continues, but produce inflation expected to be near historical average

Monday, April 20, 2015

The California drought continues into 2015—as of March, 42 percent of the State is classified under the exceptional drought rating. Despite these conditions, U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable price inflation is expected to be close to its historical average in 2015. ERS predicts fresh fruit prices will increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent and fresh vegetable prices 2.0 to 3.0 percent. While California does grow a large percentage of many U.S. fresh fruits and vegetables, portions of the produce purchased in grocery stores are imported from various foreign markets. Currently, the strong U.S. dollar is making foreign produce relatively less expensive, putting downward pressure on U.S. retail produce prices. Commodities that are grown almost entirely in California and whose supplies are not largely supplemented by imports could begin to experience higher price increases in 2015. This chart appears in the Food Prices and Consumers section of the California Drought: Farm and Food Impacts page on the ERS website. Information on ERS’s food price forecasts can be found in ERS’s Food Price Outlook data product.

Americans are eating fewer potatoes and less cabbage than previous generations

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Many consumers will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by preparing a traditional Irish-themed meal of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. While cabbage and potatoes remain seasonally popular, annual per capita consumption is trending lower. Beginning in the1970s and through the 1990s, consumption of fresh cabbage averaged about 8.5 pounds per capita, peaking at 9.3 pounds in 1993 with the growing availability of prepared, fresh-cut products such as slaws and salad mixes. Consumption has been trending lower since 2000, reaching as low as 6.3 pounds in 2012 before rebounding somewhat the past two years to 7.0 pounds in 2014. Consumption of fresh potatoes has been declining over a longer period, falling by about 20% during the 1970’s, before stabilizing during the 1980s and 1990s and trending lower again since 2000. The long-term decline reflects changes in the market as well as dietary shifts, including greater availability of processed potatoes (especially frozen) that supplant consumption of fresh potatoes, and growing interest in low-carbohydrate diets during the past decade that reduced consumption of all starches. This chart is based on data found in the Vegetable and Pulses Yearbook and the Food Availability Per Capita Data System.

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