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Canned, Frozen Corn Industry Struggling

For those whose primary experience with corn is the butter-drenched cob variety, it might come as a surprise that other forms of sweet corn are in trouble.

A new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign analysis shows sweet corn production for frozen and canned products has been steadily shrinking in the U.S. over the past 27 years, particularly in rainfed portions of the Midwest. Study author Marty Williams says, “We saw a decline in acreage throughout production areas in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, the regions where most processing sweet corn production is happening.”

Although the analysis was designed to illustrate long-term trends, not causes, the study found a strong relationship between extreme temperatures and sweet corn yield loss, implicating climate change. The dataset can’t predict where the industry will go next, but Williams sees potential regional shifts in production areas, such as moving into locations with more irrigation infrastructure.

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