Fruits are an important part of a person's diet. The typical American consumes around 280 pounds of fruit and tree nuts (fresh and processed products) each year. Consumption of fruits and tree nuts is the third-largest among major food groups, after dairy products and vegetables.
Most fruits are grown to serve both fresh and processing markets. The fresh-market sector accounts for more than half the value of fruit production, with over three-quarters of that generated by noncitrus fruits. The fresh market is the destination for over half the volume of all produced avocados, bananas, nectarines, kiwifruit, strawberries, tangerines, sweet cherries, apples, pears, and lemons. Meanwhile, some examples of fruit that have a larger percentage of production going into processing are oranges, grapefruit, grapes, apricots, figs, plums, peaches, tart cherries, and most berries, including blueberries and cranberries.
Processed fruit products include canned, frozen, juice, and dried fruit, as well as wine. At packinghouses, fruits are inspected and graded for size, shape, and appearance. Some fruits intended for the fresh market are diverted to processors due to quality requirements. Most fruits for processing, on the other hand, are not easily diverted to the fresh market because of the same quality requirements. Most fruit destined for processing is grown under contractual arrangement between growers and processors.
Oranges, grapes, apples, bananas, and grapefruit are the top five fruits consumed in the United States during the 2000s (includes fresh and all processed products). While growth in fresh fruit consumption has been the strongest, juice remains the No. 1 form in which fruit is consumed in the U.S. Fruit juice accounts for nearly half of the total per capita fruit consumed annually, fresh use accounts for over one-third, and canned, dried, and frozen fruit each represent less than one-tenth.
- Passion fruit
- Fruit and Tree Nuts: Background by the U.S. Department of Agriculture