Spinach

Revised, January 2018

Introduction

Spinach is a quick-maturing, cool season leafy green vegetable crop. U.S. annual per capita consumption of fresh spinach was 1.5 pounds per person in 2016, down from a record 2.0 pounds per person in 2007.  Spinach ranks as one of the most nutrient-dense of all foods. At just 7 calories per uncooked cup, it is is an excellent source of folate, and vitamins K, C, A, E and B-6. It’s also a good source of iron magnesium, riboflavin and potassium. While cooking spinach somewhat degrades its folate and vitamin C content, cooked spinach provides higher levels of vitamin A and iron than raw.

Marketing

Spinach is a quick-maturing, cool season leafy green vegetable crop. U.S. annual per capita consumption of fresh spinach was 1.5 pounds per person in 2016, down from a record 2.0 pounds per person in 2007.  Spinach ranks as one of the most nutrient-dense of all foods. At just 7 calories per uncooked cup, it is is an excellent source of folate, and vitamins K, C, A, E and B-6. It’s also a good source of iron magnesium, riboflavin and potassium. While cooking spinach somewhat degrades its folate and vitamin C content, cooked spinach provides higher levels of vitamin A and iron than raw.

Production

Approximately 47,500 acres of spinach were harvested in the U.S. in 2016. California is the largest spinach producing state. With nearly year-round production in the coastal valleys, it produces approximately 65 percent of all acres in fresh spinach production. Four states, California, Arizona, New Jersey and Texas, grow 98 percent of the commercial fresh market spinach in the U.S.  The average yield in 2016 was approximately 15,000 pounds per acre for fresh and processed spinach. In 2016, 5.57 million pounds of fresh spinach was marketed and 78,450 tons frozen and canned. The value of the 2016 fresh spinach crop was estimated at $281.8 million. $10.79 million for all spinach. 

Prices

In 2016, the U.S. season average farm price for fresh spinach was $50.60 per hundredweight. Historically, the average price for canned spinach has been much lower than that for frozen spinach; in 2014 prices were $68 and $144 per ton for spinach for canning and freezing, respectively.

Financials

According to a University of California report, harvest and post-harvest costs were 56 percent of the production costs for spinach. It is very labor intensive, especially for weed management, bunched spinach harvests, and clipped spinach handling. Production costs and net profit varies depending on the location, size of the farm, amount mechanization, and market. 

Sources

Vegetables Annual Summary, (USDA NASS, 2017)
Vegetable and Pulses Outlook (USDA ERS, 2017)
Nutritive Value of Foods (USDA ARS, 2002)
Chicago Terminal Market Prices (USDA AMS)
National Retail Report: Fruits and Vegetables: Weekly Advertised Prices for Fruits and Vegetables at Major Retail Supermarket Outlets
Spinach Production in California (University of California)
Spinach Production: Sample Costs and Profitability Analysis (University of California)