Agri-Stats: Strawberries

Consumer demand for strawberries has driven an ever-expanding market in Florida, California and Mexico over the past decades. See Stats below (Santani).

  • U.S Production :
    • Was nore the 3,015 million pound of strawberries in 2011.
    • Is the second largest volume in the world.
    • Is 20% of the world’s strawberry crop.
    • Has the highest productivity per unit area.
    • Farmgate economic value was between $2.3 billion and $2.9 billion from 2014 to 2017.
    • The fresh market value of berries is second to the fresh apple market.
    • Has increased about 17% since 1990. Most of the increases were in Florida and California with inverse decreases for smaller producing areas that could not be as competitive.
    • Is showing increases in small acreage and urban production to meet consumer demand for direct-to-market, local, and organic production.
  • Percent U.S. Strawberry Production by Growing Region:
    • California – 91%
    • Florida – 8%
    • All other states (North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington) combined + about 1%. (Note: this 1% is produced on about 17% of the available acreage and by 85%, >9,000, farms.)
  • California Production:
    • Is mostly concentrated in three primary coastal prodution regions: Salinas/Watsonville, Santa Maria, and Oxnard.
    • 2017 and 2018 acreage declined about 17% from previous years due to pressures to eliminate Methyl bromide fumigation, labor shortages, drought, urbanization, and exorbitant land lease rates: 38,937 (2014) to 33,791 acres (2018)
    • It appears the downward trend will continue in 2019 with a reduction of ~6% fewer fall planted strawberry acres in California. The majority of acreage reductions are located in the Salinas/Watsonville growing region, which has decreased about 12% from 2018 acres.
    • Most of California berries are annual plantings with 27,804 acres planted in the fall of 2017 for winter/spring/summer harvests. These fall plantings are started using bare-root plants from Northern California nurseries.
    • 5,988 acres are planted in the summer for fall harvest. These are “frigo” plants, which are dormant, leafless, strawberry plants thata have been in cold-storage for months.
    • In 2018, organic production was 3,023 acres of fall-planted and 968 acres of summer-planted berries.
    • About 75% of acres are harvested for fresh market and about 25% are harvested for the frozen foods market.
    • About 16% of harvested berries are exported to Canada, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong.
    • About 59% of acres are planted with University of California cultivars and the remaining acres are planted to proprietary varieties.
    • 100% of strawberries are hand-picked; however, the industry is investing heavily in development of robotic strawberry pickers in response to unrelenting labor shortages.
  • U.S. Consumption
    • Has increased from 2 lb. per capita in 1980 to 8 lb. per capita in 2013.
    • During the U.S. off-season, berries are imported from Mexico. This represents about 11% of the total market share. Mexican imports have increased in recent years and over 800 million pounds were imported in 2012 and 2013.

Consumption is expected to continue to increase as a result of health awareness, year-round product availability, and improved cultivars. In 2019, Florida and Mexico acreages appear to be roughly equal to previous years. Acreage losses in California (mostly in the Salinas/Watsonville production area) are expected to be off-set by the planting of more productive varieties so that overall U.S. volumes will remain mostly unchanged. The anticipated volume of U.S. berries is expected to meet demand. (Winiecke)

Samtani, Jayesh, B. et al. The Status and Furture of the Strawberry Industry in the United States. In HortTechnolgy, American Society for Horticultural Science. (January, 31, 2019).

Winiecke, Dan. California Strawberry Acreage in 2019. TreeTop. (December 11, 2018).

Agri-Stats: Strawberries

Summary (Mostly from the California Strawberry Commission)

  • California grows about 88% of all the berries grown in the U.S. 
  • There are about 300 strawberry growers in California. 
  • There are about 34,000 acres of strawberries in California. 
  • Berries are grown in California’s unique coastal environment, which provides moderate temperatures with warm-sunny days, cool-foggy nights, and (typically) predictable rainfall.
  • Average yields are about 50,000 pounds per acre each season. 
  • In 2017, there were 206,040,481 trays (1.8 billion pounds) of fresh strawberries harvested in California. 
  • Average costs at final harvest are between $40,000 to $50,000
  • California Strawberries are grown in five distinct growing areas: Orange County/San Diego, Oxnard/Ventura, Santa Maria/Southern SLO County and Santa Maria. 
  • Production starts in the South in the winter and shifts northward as temperatures heat up during the spring. This ensures that California strawberries are available to consumers year-round
  • New berry varieties have lengthened the number of days in the growing season to even out year-round production, improved shipping quality, while increasing the flavor!