The US vegetable and melon farming industry includes about 70,000 farms with combined annual revenue of more than $14 billion. Major companies include Chiquita, Dole Food, and the US operations of Fresh Del Monte Produce. The industry is concentrated: the top 10 percent of farms generate almost 90 percent of industry revenue.
Vegetable and melon farming covers about 50 types of produce, including lettuce, dried beans, carrots, sweet corn, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe.
Demand is driven by population growth, consumer interest in healthy eating, and government programs promoting fresh produce. The profitability of individual companies depends on maximizing crop yield and minimizing loss from disease, insects, or unfavorable weather. Large companies have advantages in diversified crop production and access to labor. Small companies can compete effectively by specializing in organic, heirloom, or specialty crops.
The vegetable and melon industry competes with grain, oilseed, fruit, and tree nut farming for cropland and acreage, as farmers tend to grow crops with the highest yield and payout.
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Major products include potatoes (20 percent of the market); fresh tomatoes (10 percent); and lettuce (10 percent). Other key products include onions, mushrooms, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, and tomatoes grown for processing.
Vegetables are farmed according to two primary end-uses: fresh or processed. Processing is the canning, freezing, or dehydrating of vegetables. Melons are a fresh market crop.
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Source: First Research