Next time you're at the movies, with every crevice of you mouth stuffed with hot, buttery popcorn, think about this: The U.S. produces 498,000 TONS of popcorn every year, of which 103,000 tons is exported. That's more than would fit in the Mammoth Cave-sized tub the kid at the refreshment stand tried to sell you. Why, that's so much popcorn, we must need the oversight of the United States Popcorn Board.
The U.S. Government Popcorn Board comes from the Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act signed by President Clinton, a big fan of popcorn, on April 4, 1996. Just so you'll know I am not making this up, here is a link to the actual law: [7 U.S. C. 7481-7491]
If you love the stuff, you will be happy to know that the Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act tells us right off the top, that no lesser authority than the U.S. Congress finds, "popcorn is an important food that is a valuable part of the human diet." See. mom? Congress says so.
The nine-member Popcorn Board works to expand the popcorn market by conducting special promotions, research, and informing consumers of the qualities and economic importance of popcorn.
Membership is currently limited to nine U.S. processor chosen from among all processors who typically distribute over 4 million pounds of popcorn annually. Members are appointed to the board by the Secretary of Agriculture from a list of nominations submitted by the industry itself.
Funding for the board comes from assessments collected from all U.S. popcorn processors who distribute over 4 million pounds per year, with annual individual assessments limited to $81,000.
Under this arrangement, the popcorn industry itself pretty much covers the cost of the Popcorn Board.
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) monitors the Popcorn Board's administration of the program.
Popcorn Production, Export and Import
According to the latest Census of Agriculture (Census) data, domestic production of popcorn totaled over 996 million shelled pounds in 1997. Popcorn is grown in 25 States. According to the Census, the top five major popcorn-producing States in 1997 were Nebraska (27 percent), Indiana (21 percent), Illinois (13 percent), Ohio (9 percent), and Missouri (6 percent).
U.S. exports of popcorn totaled 206 million pounds in 1999 (down from 219 million pounds in 1998), with a value of $58 million (down $8 million from 1998). Popcorn was exported to over 90 countries. The two largest export markets in 1999 were Mexico (with 17 percent of the poundage exported) and Canada (with 14 percent). Other major destinations for U.S. popcorn included Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Denmark, the Philippines, and Japan.
Nearly all of the world's popcorn production is in the United States, and imports are usually minimal. In 1999, only 0.3 million pounds were imported from all countries. Normally, small amounts are imported from Canada and Argentina.