According to the US Department of Agriculture, farmers have been growing more cauliflower in response to rising culinary interest in the vegetable. The US has been importing more of the product as well.
A USDA outlook report noted that fresh cauliflower has enjoyed ‘several surges of popularity’, beginning in the 1940s, when per capita availability peaked at 3.6 pounds per person. Beginning in the 1990s, USDA said, interest in fresh-market cauliflower waned again. "Then, in 2015, interest began to soar until per capita availability reached 3 pounds per person in 2019," the report said.
The upsurge in cauliflower has been driven by the popularity of low-carb and gluten-free dietary trends, USDA analysts said, noting that those trends had been "embraced and furthered" by food manufacturers that have introduced new products featuring fresh and frozen cauliflower.
Cauliflower has become an ingredient in gluten-free products including pizza crusts, tortillas, crackers, chips, mac and cheese, bread, rice and others, the report said, thanks to cauliflower's mild natural flavor and ability to take on many seasonings.
California leads the nation in production, growing more than three-quarters of the domestic crop, with nearly 39,000 acres harvested in 2019. Harvested acreage in the state has varied between 31,000 and 40,000 during the past decade.