Facts & Fun

Industry Facts

Americans consume 15 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually or 45 quarts per man, woman, and child. It is one of the most wholesome and economical foods available. 


According to The Popcorn Institute, approximately 70 percent is eaten in the home (home popped and pre-popped) and about 30 percent outside the home (theaters, stadiums, schools, etc.). Unpopped popcorn accounts for approximately 90 percent of sales for home consumption.

Popcorn StatesMajor popcorn producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Ohio.

The peak period for popcorn sales for home consumption is the fall. Sales remain fairly high throughout the winter months then taper off during the spring and summer. Popcorn is a popular snack with all age groups.

Popcorn Abroad

Most of the popcorn consumed throughout the world is grown in the United States. Although world-wide sales of popcorn are steadily increasing, Americans consume more popcorn than the citizens of any other country. 

Popcorn Quality

popcorn moistureFactors influencing popcorn quality include kernel moisture and expansion ratio, processing procedures, home storage and home handling.

To achieve the utmost in popability, the moisture content of popcorn should be from 13 percent to 14.5 percent; 13.5 percent is considered ideal. A moisture content over or under these percentages greatly reduces popability.

Processors consider the minimum expansion ratio for good popcorn to be 35 to 38 to one. However, some of today's improved hybrids will expand over 40 times.

Good popcorn should provide at least 98 percent popped kernels with well under two percent "spinsters" or unpopped kernels. Proper care at the processing level helps to assure this. Processors guard against contamination and other types of kernel damage which could lower popcorn quality.

Because home storage and handling can affect the moisture content of popcorn -- and therefore the popability -- opened packages of raw kernels should be stored in airtight containers until used. Stay away from storing popcorn in the refrigerator. Air inside a refrigerator contains very little moisture and can cause the popcorn to dry out.


Microwave Popcorn

In the early 1980's, microwave popcorn was born into the popcorn family. Today, more than 80% of U.S. consumers’ households own microwaves — that's over 73 million microwaves in homes alone! Outside of the home, people of all ages enjoy the taste of warm, freshly popped popcorn, too. With the time and preparation convenience microwavable popcorn offers, you can see popcorn "poppin' up" as an afternoon snack at work or afterschool, and in dormitories and hotel rooms. Microwavable popcorn also comes in a wide-variety of flavors including low fat, extra butter, and gourmet to satisfy all appetites. 

The Popcorn Industry by the Numbers

In 2018, popcorn sales, in pounds, were 1,145,569,723. In 2017, sales were 1,192,439,150. Below are the sales in pound from 1970. 

Year Sales in Pounds   Year Sales in Pounds 
1970  353,000,000   1994  1,080,760,000
1971   363,000,000   1995  1,025,000,000
1972   372,000,000   1996   1,068,255,000
1973   383,000,000   1997   1,059,100,000
1974  401,000,000   1998  934,132,810
1975  393,000,000   1999 938,100,156
1976   415,000,000   2000 979,910,286
1977  450,000,000   2001 1,038,134,447
1978  486,000,000   2002  1,040,587,195
1979   520,000,000   2003 983,965,094
1980  568,000,000   2004 1,009,436,378
1981  600,000,000   2005 1,007,680,708
1982   611,000,000   2006 976,292,421
1983   618,000,000   2007 977,399,488
1984  630,000,000   2008 966,515,120
1985  670,000,000   2009  991,490,741
1986  700,000,000   2010 985,690,076
1987   741,000,000   2011 955,610,300
1988   807,000,000   2012 995,774,706
1989   872,000,000   2013 1,022,719,919
1990  938,000,000   2014 1,112,018,306
1991  1,031,800,000   2015 1,178,210,441
 1,124,600,000   2016 1,145,262,029
1993   1,158,000,000   2017 1,192,439,150
      2018 1,145,569,723

The Popcorn Board

The Popcorn Board is a non-profit organization funded by U.S. popcorn processors (companies who get popcorn from the field to your store). The Board strives to raise the awareness of U.S. popcorn as a versatile, whole-grain snack via domestic and international marketing efforts.