The USDA's Economic Research Service has just published an extensive set of statistics on sweet potato production and utilization. One of the most eye-catching stats in the bunch is the rise of sweet potato per capita consumption. Per capita use of sweet potatoes in 2011 is forecast at 6.41 pounds, up from 5.20 pounds in 2009 and 4.1 pounds a decade ago.
The sweet potato is getting more than its share of buzz. From Packer coverage last fall:
"It's very trendy to see a sweet potato fry on a menu instead of a standard french fry," said Elena Hernandez, Mann's marketing coordinator.
"It started out more as a foodservice item in restaurants. Now restaurants and retailers are both boasting about the nutrition of the fries, but sweet potatoes also bring something unique to the plate in color and consistency."
Sweet potatoes have been touted for being high in fiber, beta carotene, antioxidants, and vitamins C and E.
Here is the spreadsheet with the per capita numbers and other stats.