Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popped popcorn annually or 42 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.
Major 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.
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.
Factors 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.
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 2016, popcorn sales, in pounds, were 1,145,262,029. Below are the sales in pound from 1970.
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.