Eggplant

eggplant

Revised March 2017

Introduction

Eggplant are members of the same plant family as tomatoes and peppers (Solanaceae family) and cultural practices employed in eggplant production are similar to those crops. A native of the tropics, eggplant are warm-season plants that are more vulnerable to cold temperatures than tomatoes. A large selection of varieties makes eggplants available in several colors (for example, purplish black, red, white and variegated) and shapes (for example, egg-shaped, elongated and round). Most commercial varieties in the U.S. are purplish black in color and usually oval or teardrop in shape. Less commonly produced varieties include Asian eggplants, which tend to be long and slender, and baby, or miniature, eggplants.

U.S. per capita consumption of eggplant was approximately 0.8 pounds in 2015 (ERS 2016). Nutritionally, eggplant is low in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It contains relatively low amounts of numerous vitamins and minerals, such as B1, B6, folate, copper, manganese, potassium and one cup of the skin and flesh provides approximately 10 percent of the daily value of fiber. 

Marketing

About 98 percent of the eggplant grown in the U.S. is produced for the fresh market, with the remainder used for processed products such as frozen entrees and specialty dips and appetizers (Outlook 2012). 

Production

Eggplant is a widely grown specialty vegetable in the United States, however, there are less than 7,000 acres in eggplant production annually. An estimated 142 million pounds of eggplants were grown in the United States in 2015 (ERS 2016). Production yields vary around the country with producers averaging approximately 25,000 pounds per acre.

Prices

Prices for eggplant vary depending on the type and season. A 1/9 bushel box (16-18 eggplant per box) was selling for approximately $14.00 in March 2017 (USDA AMS).

Financials:

Based on most recent production and price averages, the estimated gross value per acre is approximately $17,500. The costs of production of eggplant vary depending the production location. It is labor-intensive, especially for harvest and post-harvest handling and packaging.

Sources:

USDA ERS: Vegetable ad Pulses Data

Chicago Terminal Market Prices (USDA AMS)

Vegetables, Potatoes, and Melons Harvested for Sale: 2007 and 2012 Census of Agriculture, (NASS, USDA, 2013)