Imports supply about a third of U.S. watermelon consumption
The majority of watermelons consumed in the United States are produced domestically, but imports have grown rapidly in recent years. Watermelon acreage in the United States has declined by about 50 percent since the early 1990’s, but increases in productivity from a greater use of irrigation and improved varieties helped keep annual production levels above 3.5 billion pounds through most of the past 20 years. Watermelons can be grown in most parts of the United States but do best in the South due to long growing season and consistently warm temperatures. Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, and South Carolina account for over 70 percent of U.S. production. While domestic production has trended lower over the past five years, the U.S. appetite for watermelons has not. From 2010-15, watermelon domestic use has grown to an average 4.9 billion pounds annually, aided in part by four consecutive years of record-high imports, reaching 1.5 billion pounds in 2015. Watermelon imports continue to grow, and accounted for a third of domestic use in 2015, up from 11 percent in 2000 and 7 percent in 1990. Most watermelons imported to the United States come from Mexico, followed by Guatemala and Honduras. This chart is based on data found in the ERS’s report Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: March 2016.
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