The trend is clear – U.S. consumers want pumpkins in their lattes, beers, pies and on their front porches. During the past 15 years, pumpkin production from all categories (fresh, processed, etc.) rose 31%. Pumpkin production was at 1.46 billion pounds in 2000 and rocketed to 1.91 billion pounds last year.
The USDA Economic Research Service attributes the rise to several factors, including popularity of urban pumpkin patches, fall festivals, new ornamental uses and seasonal cuisine. Per-capita use statistics show the average U.S. citizen uses 5.39 pounds of pumpkins each year for food and ornamental purposes.
This year could buck that trend, however, by no fault of consumer demand. Libby’s, the largest U.S. pumpkin producer, told Bloomberg earlier in October that yields in Illinois, the nation’s largest pumpkin-producing state, will be down big due to heavy summer rains. All told, they will only can around half of what the company initially forecasted, according to spokeswoman Roz O’Hearn.
“We think we’ll have enough pumpkins to get consumers through the important Thanksgiving holiday,” O’Hearn told Bloomberg. “[But after that, there’s going to be a shortage] until you get to the next harvest.”
Consumers will be waiting. According to Forbes, pumpkin beverages have soared 130% since 2006, and using pumpkins in restaurant dishes has increased tenfold over the past decade.