State of the Facts
From mashed potatoes to green bean casserole to the centerpiece turkey, many of the components of a traditional Thanksgiving menu originate from American farms.
Here’s the government data behind Thanksgiving dinner. Unless otherwise noted, all the data is from the US Department of Agriculture.
In 2021, farmers raised about 217 million turkeys and produced about 5.6 billion pounds of ready-to-cook turkey. That’s an average of 26 pounds of meat per bird. In 2021, total turkey production was worth an estimated $5.9 billion.
In 2021, the US produced about 2.9 billion pounds of sweet potatoes. Farmers sold $680 million worth of sweet potatoes.
Top states: North Carolina leads the nation in sweet potato farming, producing 1.8 billion pounds or about 63.5% of the crop grown in the US. California growers produced 610 million pounds or 21% of US sweet potato production. The remaining 15.5% was produced in Mississippi.
Fun fact: Domestic sweet potato consumption has grown significantly since 2000: annual per capita availability, a measure used as a proxy for consumption, increased from 4.2 pounds in 2000 to 6.28 pounds in 2021.
In 2021, cranberry production dropped by 9.4% from 2020, from 7.8 to 7.2 million barrels. In 2022, US cranberry production is projected to recover partially to 7.4 million barrels of cranberries. Barrels can hold 100 pounds of cranberries.
Top states: This Thanksgiving mainstay is harvested from bogs covering 39,300 acres primarily in two states. In Wisconsin, farmers harvested 4.17 million barrels of cranberries in 2021, accounting for 59% of total production. Massachusetts farmers produced 1.8 million barrels of cranberries, accounting for 25% of all production.
Fun fact: The price of a barrel of cranberries is 47% lower from a high of $73.80 adjusted to 2021 dollars) in 2008 to $38.46 in 2021.
In 2021, the US produced about 41 billion pounds of potatoes, down 2% from the previous year. The value of all potatoes sold in 2021 was $3.9 billion, a 7% increase from 2020.
Top states: Synonymous with potatoes, Idaho leads the nation in production, responsible for 32% of the nation's output. Neighboring Washington is responsible for 22% of potato production.
Fun fact: Forty-two percent of potatoes were processed into frozen products, including french fries. About 23%, or 9.4 billion pounds of potatoes, remained as the fresh type that can be transformed into mashed potatoes.
In 2021, the US produced 15.1 billion pounds of snap beans. About 18 percent of snap beans produced in the US are for fresh use, while the rest are processed by canning or freezing.
Top states: Wisconsin led all states in production in 2021 with 669 million pounds of snap beans. Five other states — New York, Michigan, Oregon, Florida, and Illinois — had production exceed 100 million pounds.
Fun fact: In terms of area harvested, snap beans were among the top three vegetables alongside sweet corn and tomatoes. In 2021, snap bean farms covered 173,200 acres. Sweet corn harvests covered 356,700 acres, while tomatoes covered 269,900 acres.
In 2021, US farmers produced about 1.7 billion pounds of pumpkins.
Top states: Production is dispersed throughout the US, with all states producing some pumpkins. In 2021, Illinois produced 652 million pounds of pumpkins, more than the next five largest states in production combined.
Fun fact: Almost 80% of Illinois’ pumpkin crop is processed as pie filling or other processed pumpkin products. By contrast, 0% of the pumpkin crop in California is processed. This difference is explained by the differences in types of pumpkins grown in Illinois versus other states. According to the USDA, pumpkin growers in other states are geared more toward growing pumpkins for seasonal reasons such as Halloween.
Learn more about how much of the food grown in the US is exported to other countries.
Production data is often reported as hundredweight, abbreviated in cwt. This report converts that measurement when possible to pounds. There are 100 pounds in each hundredweight.
Correction: The map of turkey production by state had the wrong year's numbers displayed. The error was corrected. (11/18/22)
Correction: The statistics on potato production incorrectly used the British conversion of 112 pounds per hundredweight (CWT). The chart and text in this section are now correct. (11/18/22)
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