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Imports supply about a third of U.S. watermelon consumption

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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.

U.S. egg prices continue to adjust following the 2015 HPAI outbreak

Monday, August 29, 2016

Wholesale prices for table eggs are typically variable, reflecting changes in supply, demand, as well as seasonal patterns. The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) outbreak that affected U.S. poultry farms between December of 2014 and June of 2015 led to a significant reduction in the supply of eggs, and a corresponding spike in prices. As the outbreak intensified in the spring of 2015, the price of a dozen “grade A” large eggs in the New York market increased from $1.29 in April to $2.61 in August. In the two years prior to the outbreak, the average price of a dozen eggs in this market was $1.33. Prices remained elevated through the remainder of 2015 as producers worked to rebuild capacity. As production returned to pre-outbreak levels in early 2016, prices fell sharply to a low of $0.63 per dozen in May 2016, the lowest price since July 2006, before increasing modestly in June and July. This chart is based on data found in the ERS Livestock and Meat Domestic Data.

U.S. sugar and sweetener trade with Mexico grew under NAFTA

Monday, August 22, 2016

Agreement by the United States and Mexico to implement the provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with respect to bilateral trade in sugar and sweeteners starting in fiscal year 2008 led to a substantial increase in this trade. During fiscal years 2011-15, U.S. sugar imports from Mexico averaged about 1.5 million metric tons per year—contributing about 12 percent of the U.S. sugar supply—and U.S. exports of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to Mexico averaged about 950,000 metric tons—equal to about 12 percent of U.S. production. Agreements reached in December 2014 to suspend U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on sugar imports from Mexico imposed new restrictions on the quantity, price, and composition of U.S. imports of Mexican sugar. However, these measures still allow for larger volumes of trade than prevailed before 2008, and before the start of NAFTA’s implementation back in 1994. This chart is from the ERS report, A New Outlook for the U.S.-Mexico Sugar and Sweetener Market released on August 11, 2016.

The share of world population that is food insecure is projected to decline

Monday, July 11, 2016

The latest International Food Security Assessment suggests food security will improve over the next 10 years for the 76 low- and middle-income countries examined by ERS. The improvement is driven by expectations of falling food prices and rising incomes across most of these countries. The share of the total population within these 76 countries that is food insecure is projected to fall from 17 percent in 2016 to 6 percent in 2026. The report estimates per capita food consumption and evaluates that against a nutritional target of 2,100 calories per person per day to determine whether population groups should be considered food secure. At the regional level, the greatest improvement in food security between 2016 and 2026 is projected for Asia, where the share of population that is food insecure falls from 13.2 to 2.4 percent. The share of population that is food insecure in the Latin America and the Caribbean region is projected to fall from 14.6 percent in 2016 to 6.4 percent in 2026. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world, and like the other regions, its food-security situation is projected to improve over the decade—but at a slower rate. The share of the region’s population that is food insecure is projected to fall from 29 to 15 percent. This chart is from the ERS report, International Food Security Assessment: 2016-2026, released June 30.

U.S. rice ending stocks could rise to the highest level in three decades

Friday, July 1, 2016

U.S. ending stocks of rice for the 2016/17 (August-July) marketing year are projected at 50.9 million hundredweight (cwt), up 19 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 1986/87. The substantial buildup in stocks is the result of a large increase in 2016/17 production that exceeds the gains expected in domestic use and exports. U.S. rice production for the 2016/17 marketing year is expected to reach 231.0 million cwt, the highest since 2010/11 and third largest on record. The bumper crop—up 20 percent from a year earlier—is primarily due to a large increase in harvested area as well as a slightly higher expected yield. At 3.06 million acres, 2016/17 plantings are up 17 percent from a year earlier and the highest since 2010/11. The substantial area increase is largely due to a return of several hundred thousand acres in the South that were not planted last year due to adverse weather, a lack of economically viable alternatives at planting time in the southern States, and an end to water restrictions in the Texas Rice Belt. The rising level of rice stocks in the United States is in contrast to the tightening stock levels currently faced by several of the world’s largest exporters—primarily India, Thailand, and Pakistan. Global ending stocks, excluding China, are expected to be down 13 percent from a year earlier, the fourth consecutive year of decline and the lowest since 2004/05. This chart is from the Rice Outlook June 2016 report.

U.S. milk production continues to grow

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Milk production in the United States continues to grow, with year-over-year output increasing each month over the past few years. U.S. average daily milk production in April was 1.2 percent higher than the same period last year, following year-over-year gains of 1.8 percent in March, 1.0 percent in February and 0.2 percent in January. The increases reflect a combination of herd expansion and increasing production per cow. Despite relatively low farm milk prices in recent months, low feed prices and favorable weather conditions have contributed to growth in milk production. At the same time, as dairy farms have grown larger, many have developed economies of scale that enable them to maintain profitability and in some cases even expand production in the face of lower margins. This chart is from the Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook: May 2016.

U.S. stocks of natural cheese are at the highest levels since 1984

Friday, June 3, 2016

The volume of natural cheese held in cold storage in the United States has grown to 1.214 billion pounds as of the end of April 2016, the highest level since March 1984. However, unlike 1984, inventories today are almost exclusively privately held and reflect the needs of a growing market instead of the consequence of government policy. In the 1980s, the Milk Price Support Program was very active in purchasing large quantities of cheese to support dairy prices. The U.S. Government owned about 60 percent of cheese stocks, which it often distributed through food donation programs in the United States and abroad. In recent years, government purchases of dairy products fell to zero as market prices exceeded support prices, and the Milk Price Support Program was repealed by the 2014 Farm Act. At the same time, commercial cheese stocks have grown to help meet the growing demand for cheese. Total commercial use of cheese (which does not include government donations) grew from 4.6 billion pounds in 1984 to 11.9 billion pounds in 2015, due to population growth as well as increasing consumption per capita and higher exports. Commercial cheese stocks have been growing particularly fast in recent months, reflecting an increasing milk supply, relatively low export demand, and anticipation of further growth in the domestic market. This chart is based on the May 2016 Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, report and the ERS Dairy Data product.

The United States is the second largest supplier of beef to Japan

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

With its large population and limited space for agricultural land, Japan has long been one of the world’s largest importers of food products, including beef. In 2014, Japan imported nearly $3.5 billion of beef and beef products, making it the third largest beef importer in the world. The primary suppliers of these imports are the United States and Australia, which together represented roughly 90 percent of Japan’s 2014 beef imports in terms of both quantity and value. Australia has the larger share, with 51.8 percent of the total quantity of beef and beef-offal prod­ucts imports and 46.8 percent of the value. The U.S. share of this market, at 38.2 percent of quantity and 43.6 percent of value in 2014, has steadily recovered since 2004-06, when Japan banned imports of most U.S. beef in response to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalop­athy (BSE) in the United States. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA), signed in 2014, significantly reduces tariffs on imports of Australian beef, potentially giving Australia a strong advantage in supplying this market. However, both Australia and the United States are a part of the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreements, which if ratified, could improve U.S. access to this valuable market and lead to higher exports of U.S. beef to Japan. This chart is from the January 2016 report, Tariff Reforms and the Competiveness of U.S. Beef in Japan.

Milk-cow numbers turn higher and output per cow continues to grow

Friday, April 15, 2016

The number of milk cows in the United States was up slightly in 2015, reaching 9.3 million, about equal to the number in 2008. The size of the U.S. dairy herd reached an historic low of just over 9 million cows in 2004, following a long-term decline of more than 2 million head since 1983. Over the past decade, the herd size has grown slightly, by an average of 0.3 percent per year. Improving technology and genetics have allowed milk output per cow to rise steadily, increasing by 88 percent since 1980 and reaching a record-high annual average of 22,393 pounds of milk per cow in 2015. The result has been strong growth in U.S. milk production over the period, which corresponds to growing domestic and international markets for dairy products—particularly for cheese and various dairy-based food ingredients. This chart is based on the ERS Dairy Data product.

U.S. rice production declined 13 percent in 2015

Friday, April 1, 2016

U.S. rice production declined 13 percent in 2015/16 (August-July) to 192.3 million hundredweight (cwt), down 29.9 cwt from a year earlier. The decline in production was the result of both smaller plantings and a lower average yield. At 2.614 million acres, 2015/16 rice plantings were 11.5 percent below a year earlier, primarily reflecting weather-related problems that included excessive rain in the Mississippi Delta early in the growing season and long-term drought in California and Texas. The U.S. average yield of 7,470 pounds per acre was 1.4 percent below a year earlier, largely due to the adverse weather in much of the South that delayed plantings and interfered with field operations during the growing season. Despite the sharp decline in the 2015 crop, U.S. supplies are projected to contract by only 5 percent due to the substantial quantity of rice that was carried over from the previous year, when production reached the fourth highest level on record due to strong prices and normal weather in the South that boosted acreage. This chart is from the Rice Outlook, March 2016.

Exports as a share of red meat and poultry production expected to increase in 2016, while dairy's export share declines

Monday, March 21, 2016

In 2015, approximately 15 percent of total U.S. red meat and poultry production and 18 percent of dairy production (on a skim solids milk equivalent basis) were sold in export markets. Red meat and poultry exports as a share of production are down from the average over the previous 5 years, reflecting the combination of a strengthening dollar, slowing global economy, and restrictions on poultry exports put in place as a result of the U.S. outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). However, for dairy products, exports as a share of production grew modestly in 2015 relative to the previous 5 years, reaching 18 percent. In 2016, production of red meat and poultry is expected to increase, while exports are expected to grow even more, resulting in higher export shares for beef, pork, broilers and turkey. For dairy, production is expected to increase and exports are expected to decline from 2015, causing dairy’s export share of production to be lower than last year. This chart is from Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook, March 2016.

Sweetener consumption in Mexico rebounded in 2014/15

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Domestic deliveries of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in Mexico—a useful indicator of human consumption—rebounded in the most recent marketing year (October/September) after declining about 6.5 percent the previous year. In January 2014, Mexico imposed a tax of one peso per liter on soft drinks in an effort to curb obesity by reducing consumption, and this is believed to be at least partially behind the reduction in sweetener deliveries observed during the 2013/14 marketing year. From October 2014 through September 2015, sweetener use by Mexican food processors returned to levels equivalent to just before the tax was imposed. Food consumption patterns change slowly and reflect many factors, so time and additional research is needed to fully understand the effect of Mexico’s soft-drink tax. This chart is based on the February 2016 Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook.

China's feed industry is growing rapidly as livestock sector modernizes

Monday, February 22, 2016

China’s livestock industry has expanded rapidly in recent years as diets shift toward more animal proteins. China is now the world’s largest producer of livestock products and the largest manufacturer of animal feed. Commercial feed production grew from just 5 million metric tons (mmt) in 1982 to 198 mmt in 2014. The industry’s growth paralleled that of meat and egg production, which grew from about 15 mmt annu­ally in the early 1980s to 114 mmt in 2014. China’s surge in feed output for swine after 2007 reflects the Government’s emphasis on modernizing hog production and the substitution of commercial feed for locally procured materials. Feed produced for poultry grew steadily from 1990 to 2012 as feed companies promoted vertical coordination in poultry production beginning in the 1990s. Feed production for egg-laying poultry, aquaculture, cattle, and sheep also grew rapidly during 2004-2012. The growth of China’s commercial feed industry has increased its need for imported feed ingredients, making it a leading market for U.S. soybeans, sorghum, barley, and other commodities. This chart is from Development of China’s Feed Industry and Demand for Imported Commodities.

U.S. jobs supported by agricultural exports grew in 2014

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Agricultural exports support job growth in the United States, and the number of jobs depends on the type of products exported. In calendar year 2014, $150 billion in U.S. agricultural exports supported an estimated 1,132,000 full-time civilian jobs, up from the 1,095,000 agricultural export-related jobs the previous year. Products that are largely unprocessed and sold in bulk tend to generate fewer jobs than higher value, more highly processed, nonbulk agricultural products. However, when prices for bulk commodities are low and export volume is high, the number of jobs supported by each billion dollars of export value can rise. This was the case in 2014, as the number of jobs supported by exports of bulk commodities rose by 23 percent from the previous year, while jobs supported by exports of nonbulk commodities declined by nearly 5 percent. Consequently, the growth in jobs associated with U.S. agricultural exports was driven purely by bulk commodities in 2014. Nevertheless, nonbulk commodities still account for the majority of U.S. agricultural exports, and continue to support the majority of jobs generated by agricultural exports. This chart is based on the Agricultural Trade Multipliers data product.

The United States and Australia compete to supply Japan's beef imports

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Japan is one of the largest beef importing countries in the world and an important market for the United States. In 2014, it imported nearly $3.5 billion of beef and beef products, making it the third-largest beef importer in the world. The United States and Australia are the primary suppliers, and together repre­sent roughly 90 percent of Japan’s 2014 beef imports. From 2004 to 2006, Japan banned imports of U.S. beef due to the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, boosting imports from Australia and making it the top supplier of beef to Japan. The U.S. share of this market has since recovered but imports remain below pre-ban totals. The 2015 Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) significantly reduces tariffs on Australian beef, potentially at the expense of U.S. beef. ERS research shows that providing similar market access to the U.S. and Australia would result in a significant net gain in Japanese imports of U.S. beef. This chart is from Tariff Reforms and the Competiveness of U.S. Beef in Japan.

The United States is the leading exporter of poultry to Sub-Saharan Africa

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Over the past decade, Africa has emerged to become an important market for U.S. poultry exports. Rising incomes, population growth and urbanization support strong demand for poultry across much of Africa, while limitations in domestic production have led to a heavy reliance on imports from the United States, the European Union, and Brazil. For the United States, the overwhelming share (93 percent) of poultry exports to Africa are sent to Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2012, the United States has been the leading supplier of poultry to this region, followed by the European Union and Brazil. Africa’s share of U.S. poultry exports grew to 12.6 percent in 2014, making it the second largest destination after Mexico (23.8 percent) and ahead of Hong Kong (8.6 percent), China (5.8 percent) and Canada (3.7 percent). U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa reached 455 million kilograms in 2014 (compared to 487 million kilograms to all of Africa), valued at $523.6 million. This chart is from the December 2015 Livestock Dairy and Poultry Outlook report.

China's growing feed industry depends heavily on imported ingredients

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

After nearly four decades of transitioning from a largely plant-based diet toward greater meat consumption, China is now the world’s largest producer of livestock products and has also emerged as the largest manufacturer of animal feed. This industry’s need for a reliable supply of feed ingredients has led to a reduction of China’s import barriers for many agricultural commodities and to China’s emergence as the world’s largest importer of soybeans and a growing market for imported distillers dried grains, sorghum and barley. The need for corn is still met largely through domestic production, but China became a net corn importer in 2009. The continued growth of the feed industry and demand for feed ingredients could further curb the use of trade barriers that protect Chinese grain and oilseed producers. As advocates for lower import barriers, Chinese feed companies help to forge closer integration between China’s agricultural markets and global markets. This chart is from Development of China’s Feed Industry and Demand for Imported Commodities.

Editor's Pick 2015, #2:<br>China's meat imports surge, driven by rising domestic demand and prices

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

As China enters a new phase of its economic development, its demand for higher-valued products like meat and dairy products is growing rapidly. China’s imports of meats during 2013-14 were more than double the volume imported during the early 2000s. Growing demand and higher prices of domestic meat products have driven the growth in China’s meat imports over the past few years. China’s meat imports have shifted from items like chicken feet and animal offal to muscle meat, as living standards rose and China opened its market to more beef and mutton imports. The U.S. is currently the top supplier of China’s poultry and pork imports. U.S. exports of meat, dairy products, and other consumer-oriented products, such as fruits, nuts, and wine to China rose from $234 million in 2000 to $3 billion in 2013, comprising nearly 12 percent of the value of total U.S. agricultural exports to China that year. The growth in China’s meat imports could mean new opportunities for U.S. exporters. This chart is based on the ERS report, China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports.

Global rice stocks are declining

Friday, December 4, 2015

Rice consumption worldwide is expected to exceed production for the third consecutive year in 2015/16, resulting in the smallest global ending stocks since the 2007/08 marketing year. Ending stocks among the world’s five leading rice exporters—India, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan and the United States—are projected down a combined 33 percent from last year and 47 percent below the peak levels of 2012/13. These countries account for the bulk of the decline in global stocks. The last time stocks were near these levels in 2007/08, prices rose to their highest nominal level on record, prompted by export bans by Egypt, India, and Vietnam and fears of rice shortages in countries where rice is a staple food. Today the market situation is far different, with global rice prices relatively flat since late August 2015 after trending lower for the previous several years. However, the low stocks held by major exporters suggest that in the event of a major weather problem in any large rice consuming country, prices could rise rapidly since little surplus rice would be available to meet consumer needs. This chart is from the November 2015 Rice Outlook report.

Corn became China's leading crop in 2012

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dietary changes in China have led to profound changes in its markets for agricultural products. China is now the world’s largest producer of livestock products as well as the largest manufacturer of animal feed. Commercial feed includes a variety of raw materials that can be altered depending on market conditions, but the predominant ingredients in China are corn and soybean meal. China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans, but the Chinese Government’s long-standing goal of self-sufficiency in grains has led to several policies aimed at supporting and expanding domestic corn production, resulting in China’s corn output doubling from 2000 to 2013. Corn output has surpassed that of wheat and rice, and became the country’s leading crop in 2012. In contrast, China’s domestic soybean output was relatively flat throughout this period and declined to under 12 million metric tons in 2013. While import restrictions and price supports succeeded in expanding corn production, those policies also led to large corn surpluses held in government stocks at prices well above world prices. This chart is from Development of China’s Feed Industry and Demand for Imported Commodities, November 19, 2015.

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