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Revised August 2021.
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 1.03 pounds in 2020 (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.
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).
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). New Jersey leads the nation in acres of eggplant harvested with 849 acres of harvested eggplant in 2019, ahead of California’s 705, Florida’s 685 and Georgia’s 624. During peak season, farmers can harvest 900 or more bushels of eggplant per day. No other state harvested more than 500 acres. Production yields vary around the country with producers averaging approximately 25,000 pounds per acre.
Prices for eggplant vary depending on the type and season. Retail sales fell one percent in 2019, but price per pound increased by two cents. Volume dropped just under two percent. A 1/9 bushel box (16-18 eggplant per box) was selling for approximately $14.00 in August 2021 (USDA AMS).
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.
Chicago Terminal Market Prices (USDA AMS)
Vegetable 2020 Summary (USDA NASS, 2021)