Per capita vegetable disappearance up slightly in 2004

Per capita disappearance (use) of all vegetables, melons, and pulses increased about 1 pound in 2004 to 447.8 pounds. Per capita use of fresh-market vegetables (excluding melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) rose 4 percent to 144 pounds in 2004.

Including melons, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms, fresh-market vegetable consumption totaled 226.6 pounds — up 1 percent from a year earlier. Per capita use rose for commodities such as spinach (up 17 percent), cauliflower (14 percent), onions (12 percent), cabbage (10 percent), and romaine and leaf lettuce (7 percent).

Per capita use of vegetables for processing (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms) increased 1 percent to 122.5 pounds.

Total vegetable use is forecast to remain steady in 2005, as expected increases in fresh crops are offset by reductions in potatoes and processing vegetables.

Contract acreage for the five leading processing vegetables (tomatoes, sweet corn, snap beans, green peas, and cucumbers) is expected to decline 1 percent from a year earlier to 1.21 million acres. Most of the acreage reduction will result from fewer contract acres for canned vegetables (down 2 percent) as area for freezing is expected to remain steady.

The import share of the U.S. potato supply increased to 7 percent in 2004 as import volume grew faster than projected production sold minus net exports. One of the largest gains in import share was in frozen french fries, now at more than 13 percent. Frozen fries make up nearly 60 percent of total U.S. potato import volume, 91 percent of which is shipped from Canada. The next largest potato import (by volume) is potato starch, which is more than twice that of other (non french fry) frozen potatoes.

USDA’s Prospective Plantings report indicated that 2005 seeded area of dry edible beans is expected to rise 23 percent from last year’s low of 1.35 million acres. Dry bean area is up largely because of a combination of shrinking dry bean stocks, higher U.S. dry bean prices, and lower prices for alternative crops such as soybeans (down 26 percent) and field corn (down 15 percent). Acreage is expected to rise or remain stable in all surveyed states with the exception of Texas.

According to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, 70 percent of U.S. tomato acreage is harvested for processed products. This acreage is harvested by 1,577 farms — just 8 percent of all U.S. farms producing tomatoes. About 45 percent of tomato area harvested for processed products comes from farms planting at least 1,000 acres of tomatoes.

According to a USDA food consumption survey, about a third of all processed tomato products are purchased away from home at various foodservice outlets (e.g., pizza parlors).

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