U.S. melon availability down from record levels reached in 2016
Estimated domestic use (also known as domestic availability, which is a proxy for consumption) of melons totaled 8.17 billion pounds in 2017, down 4 percent from the previous year’s record high. This estimate translates to 25.1 pounds per person, down from 26.3 pounds in 2016 and slightly above the previous 5-year average. Domestic use equals net production (domestic production minus exports) plus imports. Declines in U.S. cantaloupe and honeydew production and lower melon imports reduced total domestic melon use in 2017. The United States remains a net importer of melons, with exports far lower than the volume of imports. In 2017, the United States imported 3 billion pounds of melons. As melon imports have risen over the past few decades, they have captured an increasing share of the U.S. fresh melon market—from an average share of less than 10 percent during the 1980s and 1990s to 37 percent over the last 5 years. Much of U.S. melon imports are counter-seasonal imports—imports sourced from countries with longer or opposite growing seasons from the United States—to feed consumer demand for year-round fruit options. Meanwhile, following rapid growth in the 1990s, melon exports have remained relatively steady at nearly 600 million pounds—about 10 percent of U.S production—since 2000. This chart appears in the bi-annual ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter released in March 2018.
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