Revised, October 2021
Broccoli has been grown in Europe for centuries, but has only been grown in the United States since 1925. Although California is the major producing state, broccoli it is grown in nearly every state. Over the last 35 years, per person consumption of fresh broccoli has increased from 1.4 pounds in 1980 to 7.1 pounds in 2017. According to The Packer 2017 Fresh Trends, broccoli is the 6th most popular vegetable, based on the percentage of primary shoppers buying in the previous 12 months. Consumption of frozen broccoli also increased, but at a slower rate from 1.5 pounds to 2.6 pounds within the same period. (ERS, Yearbook 2018).
The popularity and consumption of broccoli may be due to its health-related benefits and convenience. It ranks among the top 20 foods in regards to ANDI score (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), which measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient content in relation to caloric content. One cup of broccoli provides over 100% of our daily requirement for vitamins C and K and is also a good source of fiber, vitamin A, folate and potassium.
Broccoli is marketed as either a fresh or processed product, although most growers produce it for the fresh market. Processed broccoli is typically frozen for retail sale and marketed as either spears or chopped, while a limited amount is canned for soups. Typically, broccoli grown for processing is produced under contract between grower and processor. It is considered a dual use vegetable because fresh varieties can be used for either the fresh or processing market. The emergence of the value-added fresh sector, which includes pre-cut and bagged broccoli florets and broccoli coleslaw is helping to expand markets for broccoli and the added convenience is help expand total broccoli use.
Broccoli is a cool-season vegetable and is closely related to cauliflower and cabbage, requiring similar production requirements. Fresh-market production accounts for 95 percent of the U.S. crop. It is planted year-round in California with the major harvest from mid-October through December. California produces nearly 92 percent of the broccoli grown in the U.S, followed by Arizona. California exports 15 to 20 percent of its fresh market broccoli production. Approximately 129,400 acres of broccoli was harvested in 2017. The average broccoli yield in 2017 was 157.6 cwt (7.9 tons) per acre, down 10 percent from 2015.
The season average U.S. price for fresh broccoli was $46.00 per cwt and $388 per ton ($19.4 per cwt) for processing in 2017.
Based on most recent production and price averages, the estimated gross value per acre is $6,800 for fresh market broccoli. The costs of production of broccoli vary depending the production location. It is labor-intensive, especially for harvest and post-harvest handling and packaging.
USDA ERS: Vegetable and Pulses Data (2016)
Broccoli Production in California
State of the Plate: 2015 Study on America’s Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables