Revised, May, 2015
Linda Naeve, Iowa State University Extension
There are three major types of cabbage, Brassica oleracea, green, red, and savoy. It belongs in the same plant family as many other vegetables, including Chinese cabbage, broccoli, mustard, collards, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, turnip and bok choy. The per person consumption of fresh cabbage averaged 7.1 pounds per person in 2014, making it the 10th most consumed fresh vegetable in the United States.(Yearbook 2014).
The majority of cabbage is used in processing for coleslaw (45%), followed by fresh head cabbage (35%), sauerkraut (12%) and other fresh-cut products (5-10%). Fresh cabbage markets and sauerkraut markets are distinct, with the majority of sauerkraut grown under contract between grower and buyer.
Cabbage is considered a cool-weather crop. Most production of cabbage occurs in the fall, winter and spring months in the southern states and extending into the summer in the northern states. Although cabbage is grown throughout the United States, approximately 75 percent of the nation’s total fresh-market cabbage is produced in New York, Texas, California, Florida, and Georgia.
The amount of cabbage planted in the U.S. has dropped 22 percent since 2000 to 60,180 total acres planted in 2013 although the total production (in pounds) hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. Approximately 17 percent of the acreage is grown for processing. Total U.S. cabbage production in 2013 was estimated at 2,206.5 million pounds, with exports at a 30 year high of 104.1 million pounds. Cabbage imports were a record 176.3 million pounds in 2013. Cabbage consumption derived from imports has increased from 3.6 percent in 2000 to nearly 8 percent in 2014.
Wholesale prices for fresh market cabbage have been variable. The 2013 season average U.S. price for fresh cabbage was $20 per cwt. The current, on-going drought in California is likely to have a major impact on the state’s production with potential implications on U.S. supplies and prices now and in the future.
Based on most recent production and wholesale price averages, the estimated gross value per acre of fresh market is $7,320 per acre. The costs of production of cabbage vary depending the production location. Cabbage is labor intensive because it is hand-harvested and field packed.