(May 29) Americans will eat more leafy greens in 2002, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service report.

Per capita consumption of leaf lettuce, romaine, spinach, turnip greens and mustard greens is expected to increase, while consumption of collards, kale, endive and escarole should remain steady.

Lettuce should make the biggest jump in 2002, with Americans eating 8.8 pounds per person, a 3.5% increase. Last year, Americans ate 8.5 pounds per capita.

Cabbage and broccoli consumption is expected to be down one-tenth of a pound each this year at 9 pounds and 5.7 pounds, respectively.

But consumption of broccoli has gone up 35% in the past 10 years, while spinach consumption had the biggest gain over that time period at 81%. Leaf lettuce and romaine consumption jumped 55% in the past decade.

Ray Clark, executive director of the Leafy Greens Council, St. Paul, Minn., since its 1975 inception, said long-term strategies such as educating children and promotion of the council's Web site, www.leafy-greens.org, have helped carry the council’s message.

The council also tries to promote its products through in-store demonstrations, Clark said.

Clark added that the rise in popularity of fresh-cut items, the use of salads by the foodservice industry and an increased interest in exotic produce items have all spurred growth of leafy green sales.

“It hasn’t been anything spectacular, but when you look back the past few years, it has been steady,” Clark said.

Spanky Rawl, sales manager of Rawl Farms Inc., Lexington, S.C., said the company had seen sporadic growth of collard, mustard and turnip greens sales.

He said he thought that while people were eating out more than they did in the past, the added value of fresh cut greens was helping sales.

“People don’t want to take it home and clean it,” Rawl said.