15 Foods Americans Eat 20+ Pounds of Each Year

If we really are what we eat, Americans are mostly made of meat, potatoes, and bread. At least, that’s what the list we’re about to show you seems to suggest. 

That might not be surprising, given the number of burger joints in any given U.S. town. Still, there are some items Americans eat in massive amounts that you might not expect. 

While you can probably guess a few of the items on this list, we doubt you could name all of them. Americans clearly enjoy their hamburgers, but there are a lot of other foods that Americans eat 20 or more pounds of each year.

1: Potatoes

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The humble potato is the number one vegetable Americans consume. Whether fried, mashed, roasted, or baked, we can’t get enough of this starchy tuber. 

According to the USDA, Americans consume close to 50 pounds of potatoes per person per year. Most of them are in the form of french fries. 

2: Tomatoes

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USDA data shows tomatoes are the second most commonly consumed vegetable in the U.S. Americans eat about 31 pounds of them per year. 

That said, Americans aren’t eating that many raw tomatoes. Instead, we’re consuming a lot of pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and other prepared forms.  

3: Chicken 

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Chicken is such a versatile meat; it’s no wonder we love it so much! Whether you like it breaded and fried or prefer a lower-calorie grilled chicken breast, there’s a style for nearly every carnivore. 

Per Statista data, Americans consumed 98.9 pounds of chicken per capita in 2022. Projections show that number could increase to 107 pounds or more by 2033. 

4: Cheese

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It seems Americans can’t get enough cheese. Data shows US per capita cheese consumption hit record highs in 2022 at 42 pounds. 

According to YouGov surveys, cheddar cheese is the favorite for most Americans. However, American cheese comes in at a close second. 

5: Ground Beef 

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Ground beef is a staple in many dishes Americans eat. We enjoy it in hamburgers, tacos, and meatballs. 

Though the popularity of ground hamburgers has decreased in recent years, they remain incredibly popular. According to Statista data, Americans consumed just over 59 pounds of ground beef per capita in 2022. 

6: Bread

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The average American consumes about 53 pounds of bread per year. When you think about how many things bread is in, this number makes a lot of sense. 

We eat bread with breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the U.S. From French toast to sandwiches to dinner rolls, there’s no doubt Americans love bread products. 

7: Corn

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Corn is consistently one of America’s largest crops. We plant millions of acres of it every year, and while much of it goes to feeding cattle and making ethanol, we also eat it in large amounts. 

USDA data shows Americans consume about 35.5 pounds of corn products per person per year. From popcorn to corn chips, we’re big fans of corn-based products in the U.S. 

8: Sugar

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Walk through any grocery store in the U.S., and you’ll find sugary sweeteners abound. Sugar is in everything from soft drinks and ice cream to salad dressing and yogurt. 

Though World Health Organization guidelines suggest keeping added sugars to a minimum, Americans still consume a lot of sweets. Per the American Heart Association, the average American ingests about 60 pounds of sugar each year. 

9: Milk

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Milk has long been a staple of the Western diet. We consider it essential for our children, our cereal, and our coffee. 

When you consider how prevalent this form of dairy is, it makes sense that we consume about 130 pounds of it per person, per year. Believe it or not, this figure reveals a significant decline from 1975, when the average American drank over a cup a day. 

10: Rice

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From pilaf to sushi, Americans enjoy rice in a variety of dishes. Though our rice consumption is nowhere near that of many other countries, it’s relatively high. 

According to the American Rice Federation, Americans eat about 27 pounds of rice per person each year. The U.S. grows far more rice than we can eat, though; we’re the fifth-biggest rice exporter in the world. 

11: Pork

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Statista data shows Americans eat about 51.1 pounds of pork per year. Though it’s far from our favorite meat, there are many forms of pork that Americans enjoy. We put it in meatballs, enjoy it in sausages, and, of course, we consume a lot of bacon. 

Interestingly, pork consumption was down in 2022, but producers expect it to rebound in 2024. Pork is often less expensive than other proteins, and in times of high inflation, Americans may choose to eat it in greater quantities. 

12: Apples

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They say there’s nothing as American as apple pie. It turns out that saying may be true. Americans love apples more than any other fruit. 

USDA data shows that in 2021, we consumed about 45 pounds of apples per person. However, most of the apples we ingest are in juice or cider form rather than baked in a pie. 

13: Fish 

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Seafood may be America’s least consumed whole protein, but we still eat quite a bit of it. The USDA estimates that Americans eat just over 20 pounds per person each year. 

Our taste for fish has increased in recent decades. Over the last thirty years, American consumption of fish and shellfish has gone up by thirty percent. 

14: Onions

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If you spend any time cooking, you’ll find onions play a significant role in many recipes. They’re sauteed into sauces, diced on top of chilis, and, of course, deep-fried alongside hamburgers. 

According to the National Onion Association, our love for onions has been on a steady forward trajectory for the last few decades. In the 1980s, Americans were consuming a mere 12.2 pounds per person. Now, we consume more than 20 pounds per person each year. 

15: Pasta 

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Americans consume about 20 pounds of pasta per person each year. While that’s nothing compared to our friends in Italy (they consume over fifty pounds per person), it’s still a lot. 

According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission, the way we consume pasta in the U.S. is changing. There’s more demand for artisanal and organic products than ever before. Millennials, especially, are often demanding their pasta be locally sourced, handmade, and produced from non-durum wheat. 

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