ERS Charts of Note

Subscribe to get highlights from our current and past research, Monday through Friday, or see our privacy policy.
See also: Editor’s Pick 2016: Best of Charts of Note gallery.


Americans consume nearly 3 pounds of fresh mushrooms per year

Monday, November 27, 2017

Over 97 percent of the mushrooms produced in the United States fall under the genus known as Agaricus, which includes the common White Button mushrooms, often seen in grocery stores and salad bars, as well as portobello and crimini mushrooms. While some mushrooms are grown for processing uses (canned, dried, and frozen), 88 percent are sold in the fresh market. On average, Americans consume roughly 3 pounds of fresh Agaricus mushrooms each year. Of the amount consumed, 87 percent is produced domestically in States like California and Pennsylvania. A growing share is imported, moving from 4 percent of domestic consumption in 2000 to 13 percent in 2017. Mushroom consumption increased each year since 2013, but fell slightly in 2017, with domestic production falling by just over 1 percent. Even with that decline, however, per capita consumption of Agaricus mushrooms increased by nearly 22 percent since 2010. Additionally, modest increases in wholesale prices since 2016 resulted in increased value to producers despite the reduced output. This chart appears in the ERS Vegetables and Pulses Outlook newsletter, released in October 2017.

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.

Fruits and vegetables comparable in price per portion to snack foods

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Replacing calorie-dense snack foods with calorie-sparse fruits and vegetables can be one step in addressing childhood obesity and does not have to compromise a family?s food budget. An ERS analysis of prices per portion for 20 common snack foods and 20 potential fruit and vegetable substitutes found that 9 of the 20 fruits and vegetables and 8 of the 20 snack foods cost 25 cents per portion or less; an additional 8 fruits and vegetables and 10 snack foods cost between 26 and 50 cents per portion. On average, the 20 fruits and vegetables cost 31 cents per portion and the 20 snack foods cost 33 cents per portion. A household making all possible 400 substitutions between the 20 snack foods and the 20 fruits and vegetables would save an average of 2 cents and 126 calories per swap. The statistics in this chart are from "Gobbling Up Snacks: Cause or Potential Cure for Childhood Obesity?" in the December 2012 issue of ERS? Amber Waves magazine.

Horticultural products lead growth in U.S. agricultural imports

Thursday, September 1, 2016

U.S. agricultural imports are forecast at a record $109.5 billion in fiscal year 2014 (October/September), up $5.7 billion from fiscal 2013, with horticultural products continuing to be the primary driver of import growth. The outlook is for relatively stable prices for major imports in fiscal 2014, while stronger U.S. income growth is expected to boost import volumes. Imports of horticultural products are projected to increase by $4 billion in fiscal 2014 as U.S. demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, processed fruit, wine, essential oils, and most other horticultural product categories continues to expand. Horticultural products have accounted for more than 40 percent of U.S. import growth since 2010. Imports from most supplying countries are expected to be higher in fiscal 2014 with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union?which together account for more than 59 percent of U.S. imports?contributing most of the gains. This chart is based on data provided in the Outlook for U.S Agricultural Trade.

California droughts are but one factor in higher retail produce prices

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The severity and duration of the ongoing drought in California has raised concerns over its role in rising food prices at the grocery store, especially for fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2012, California produced nearly 50 percent (by value) of the nation?s vegetables and non-citrus fruit. Droughts in California are generally associated with higher retail prices for produce, but price increases are lagged due to the time it takes for weather conditions and planting decisions to alter crop production, which then influence retail prices. In 2005, following five years of drought, retail fruit prices rose 3.7 percent and retail vegetable prices increased 4 percent. Prices continued to rise in 2006, one year after drought conditions began to improve. However, other factors such as energy prices and consumer demand also affect retail produce prices. For example, prices for fresh produce fell in 2009 despite drought conditions, as the 2007-09 recession reduced foreign and domestic demand for many retail foods. As of October 2014, ERS analysts are forecasting fresh fruit prices to increase 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2014 and vegetable prices to be 2 to 3 percent higher. 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, updated October 24, 2014.

Consumption of fresh fall vegetables has fallen 21 percent since 1970

Thursday, September 1, 2016

With colder weather approaching, many cooks turn to traditional fall vegetables for their made-from-scratch dishes. According to ERS?s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data, Americans consumed 49.7 pounds per person of traditional fall vegetables in their fresh form in 2012. Despite many of these traditional fall vegetables now being grown year-round in parts of the United States and eaten throughout the year, consumption has fallen 13.1 pounds per person since 1970. Much of this decline is due to consumption of fresh potatoes falling from 46.6 pounds per person in 1970 to 26.8 pounds in 2012. Per person consumption of potatoes in all forms (fresh, frozen, canned, dehydrated, etc.) has also fallen?by 10.8 pounds over the last 40 years. However, consumption of most of the other traditional fall vegetables in their fresh form has grown, including fresh onions, which were the second most consumed fresh fall vegetable at 8 pounds per person. Consumption of fresh pumpkins and sweet potatoes combined was 1.5 pounds per person in 2012. The data for this chart come from ERS's Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

Turkey prices have risen faster than general food prices, but usually fall in November and December

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Prices for turkey, a Thanksgiving staple, have increased more than prices for most other grocery store foods in recent years. From 2005 to 2011, average retail turkey prices increased by 47 percent, while food-at-home prices rose by 13 percent. Higher feed costs and energy prices led producers to reduce turkey inventories, driving up retail turkey prices. However, average turkey prices fall every year near Thanksgiving, and most years, retail turkey prices are at annual lows in November or December. Prices of other Thanksgiving foods have not followed similar trends. Potato prices, for example, have increased more in line with food-at-home prices and do not show a strong seasonal pattern. More information on food price changes and forecasts can be found in ERS's Food Price Outlook data product, updated October 25, 2012. For more information on the U.S. turkey sector, visit the Poultry & Eggs topic page on the ERS website.

U.S. potato prices drop as production surges

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In 2012/13, U.S. potato production increased 37.5 million hundredweight (cwt) to 467 million cwt, making it the largest crop since 2000, when 523 million cwt was produced. Most of the increased output was in areas with high potato processing capacities, including Idaho and North Dakota. Fresh-market prices have fallen because of expanding supplies. Lower fresh market prices are forecast to pull down the average farm price to $8.39 per cwt, a drop of $1.02 relative to the 2011/12 marketing year price. If realized, the price decline will be the largest negative year-to-year change since the 1996/97 marketing year, when average prices fell by $1.84 per cwt in a 12-month period. This chart appears in Vegetables and Pulses Outlook, March 2013.

Mexico is the largest supplier of fresh cucumbers to the U.S. market

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mexico supplied 65 percent of fresh cucumber commercial shipments to the U.S. market in 2012. Imports are typically strongest early in the year when U.S. production is limited by cool weather and weakest in summer months during the height of the domestic season. Cucumbers grown under cover in greenhouse (including shadehouse) enclosures represent a growing source for the U.S. market from both U.S. growers and importers. In 2012, cucumbers grown under cover accounted for 20 percent of all shipments: 18 percent were imported and 2 percent were produced domestically. This chart is based on information provided in Cucumbers: Background Statistics in the ERS Newsroom, released on April 29, 2013.

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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

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.

U.S. pumpkin production and use are growing

Thursday, September 1, 2016

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.

Charts of Note header image for left nav