ERS Charts of Note

Subscribe to get highlights from our current and past research, Monday through Friday, or see our privacy policy.
See also: Editor’s Pick 2017: Best of Charts of Note gallery.


World cotton consumption expected to exceed production for second consecutive year

Thursday, September 1, 2016

World cotton consumption is expected to grow modestly during the 2016/17 marketing year (August-July), reaching 110.8 million bales. That is similar to 2014/15 levels after dipping slightly in 2015/16. Modest growth in the global economy and relatively low cotton prices are expected to support mill use in most countries. China, India, and Pakistan are expected to lead world cotton mill use and account for a combined 62 percent of the total, similar to 2015/16. Global cotton production is forecast at 104.4 million bales in 2016/17, a modest increase following the 16-percent reduction in production in 2015/16?the result of inclement weather and pest damage in a number of producing countries. While cotton area is expected to decline, a rebound in yields would support the increase in production. With global cotton consumption forecast to exceed production for a second consecutive season, 2016/17 world ending stocks are projected to decline 6 percent from 2015/16, but at more than 96 million bales, ending stocks remain historically high and will continue to weigh on prices and production. This chart is from the May 2016 Cotton and Wool Outlook report.

Poultry consumption grows with income in the Middle East and North Africa

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meat consumption is correlated with income around the world, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is no exception. While income levels vary widely across the region, income growth continues to outpace the world average with implications for MENA?s future meat demand, particularly poultry. Per capita meat consumption has more than doubled from around 12 kilograms (kg) in the 1990s to about 24 kg in 2010, and USDA?s Baseline Projections suggest this growth will continue well into the future. As with other commodities, the growth of poultry consumption has exceeded gains in domestic production, leading to rising imports, and MENA is now the largest regional importer of poultry products in the world. Domestic meat production is also growing rapidly; regional poultry production grew by nearly 5 percent annually from 2000 to 2011, leading to growth in demand for animal feeds, primarily corn and soybean meal. The chart is from Middle East and North Africa Region: An Important Driver of World Agricultural Trade.

Strong projected growth in global poultry meat imports

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The United States is the world?s second largest poultry meat exporter behind Brazil, with U.S. exports valued at $4.2 billion and accounting for 20 percent of U.S. broiler meat production in 2012. According to USDA?s long-term projections, world import demand for poultry meat is expected to grow 1.56 million tons over the next 10 years. Brazil?s poultry exports?aided by relatively low production costs?are expected to grow 27 percent by 2022, compared with 11 percent projected growth in U.S. exports.? Strong growth in poultry imports is projected for much of the world, except for Russia and the EU.? Continued growth is projected in the Africa and the Middle East region?including Sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Other North Africa and Middle East?which now accounts for more than 40 percent of poultry imports by major importers.? In this and other developing regions, rising consumer incomes, population growth, urbanization, and the typically low cost of poultry meat relative to other meats are key drivers of expanding poultry demand.? This chart can be found in Assessing Growth in U.S. Broiler and Poultry Meat Exports, LDPM-231-01, released November 8, 2013.

U.S. fresh fruit imports are increasingly diverse

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Since the 1990s, the U.S. fresh fruit market has changed, with growing imports of a wider variety of fresh fruit shaping the market. Americans now consume an increased amount and expanded variety of fresh fruit and also benefit from improved year-round availability of fresh fruits. Between 1990-92 and 2010-12, U.S. per capita use of fresh fruit increased more than 12 percent to 104.7 pounds, while the share of fresh fruit use that is imported grew from 36.3 percent to 49 percent.? The mix of fresh fruit imports changed substantially during this period?many traditional imports (such as bananas and apples) now account for a smaller share of total fruit imports, while the share for some other items (such as berries and avocados) is rising. Analysis of seasonal patterns indicates that the availability of imports and domestic products are generally complementary, with imports often making up for seasonal shortfalls in domestic fruit production. This chart can be found in Imports Contribute to Year-Round Fresh Fruit Availability, FTS-356-01, released December 30, 2013.

Top U.S. agricultural export markets located in Asia and North America

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Most of the largest individual country markets for U.S. agricultural exports are in Asia and North America. China, with its strong demand for soybeans, cotton, cattle hides, tree nuts, and other horticulture products, has become the largest single U.S agricultural market, with annual U.S. exports averaging $23.5 billion during 2011-13. Canada (with 2011-13 average U.S. exports of $20.3 billion) and Mexico ($18.5 billion) are the second and third largest markets, with trade in a broad range of agricultural commodities aided by reforms introduced by the 20-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Japan ($13.2 billion) is the fourth largest U.S. market, and the next five top ranked markets are also in Asia: South Korea ($6.0 billion), Hong Kong ($3.5 billion), Taiwan ($3.3 billion), Indonesia ($2.7 billion), and the Philippines ($2.3 billion).?? Total U.S. agricultural exports were a record $144.1 billion in 2013, and averaged $140.6 billion during 2011-13. Find this chart and more in Selected Charts 2014, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.

The cost of producing corn and soybeans varies across the three leading exporters

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The cost of producing agricultural commodities varies across countries and regions due to many factors, including the quality of resources, climatic conditions, and the cost and availability of necessary inputs. Differences in cost of production help to determine a country?s export competitiveness in global markets, with low-cost producers usually capturing a larger share of global exports. Corn and soybeans are among the most important agricultural commodities traded in global markets, and the United States, Brazil and Argentina are the leading exporters, accounting for a combined 88 percent of world soybean exports and 73 percent of world corn exports between 2008 and 2012. Based on data for 2010 and 5-year average yields, the cost of producing soybeans in Argentina average $8.81 per bushel, compared to $7.47 in Brazil and just over $8.00 in the United States. For corn, Brazil had the highest cost of production at $4.74 per bushel, compared to $3.93 for Argentina and $3.80 in the United States. This chart is from the ERS report, Corn and Soybean Production Costs and Export Competitiveness in Argentina, Brazil and the United States, released on June 22, 2016.

U.S. cotton production and share of global supply are expected to be up in 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The 2016 U.S. cotton crop is expected to reach 15.8 million bales (1 bale = 480 pounds), 23 percent larger than the 2015 crop, reflecting a 17-percent increase in acreage, lower abandonment and higher yields compared to last year. Globally, cotton production is projected to reach 102.5 million bales in 2016, up 5 percent from last year. Global cotton production is concentrated among a small number of countries, with India and China accounting for nearly half of world production and the top five producers expected to supply 77 percent of the world?s cotton this year. Production in most countries is expected to increase at least modestly this year, with the exception of China, where production is expected to fall 4.5 percent to 21.4 million bales as acreage there falls to historically low levels. Given the large increase in U.S. production, the U.S. share of global supply is expected to increase from 13.2 percent in 2015 to 15.4 percent in 2016, compared to a 27-percent share supplied by India and 21 percent by China. This chart is from the ERS report Cotton and Wool Outlook report, July 2016.

U.S. jobs associated with agricultural exports vary with the types of goods exported

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The number of U.S. jobs associated with agricultural exports has generally been growing along with U.S. agricultural exports and is influenced by the composition of exports between bulk (raw, unprocessed) and nonbulk (processed, high-value) agricultural products. In calendar year 2012, the $141.3 billion of total U.S. agricultural exports generated an estimated 929,000 full-time civilian jobs. Since the early 2000s, job growth associated with U.S. agricultural exports has been driven entirely by expanding sales of nonbulk products. Nonbulk exports have a larger proportional effect on jobs than bulk exports because they generate more economic activity and jobs in the nonfarm economy in areas such as manufacturing, trade, and transportation. In 2012, nonbulk exports of $90.6 billion led to an additional $140.1 billion of business activity supporting an estimated 654,584 jobs, while bulk exports valued at $50.7 billion produced an additional $39.4 billion of business activity supporting an estimated 274,584 jobs. Estimates of economic activity and jobs associated with agricultural exports are model-based, using a detailed input-output data set on the U.S. economy. Find this chart and additional data and documentation in the ERS?Agricultural Trade Multiplier?data product.

Russia food import ban to affect small share of U.S. agricultural exports

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Russia?s recently announced 1-year ban on imports of food from the United States should affect only relatively small shares of U.S. agricultural exports.? In calendar year 2013, U.S. agricultural exports to Russia totaled $1.31 billion, or 0.8% of total U.S. agricultural exports of $162.16 billion. Major U.S. products shipped to Russia in 2013 were poultry meat and products ($312 million), tree nuts (primarily almonds; $172 million), soybeans ($157 million), and live animals (primarily cattle for breeding purposes; $149 million).? Imports of non-food items, including soybeans and live animals, do not appear to be on Russia?s banned list.? U.S. exports of poultry meat and products to Russia accounted for 5.6 percent of U.S. exports in this category in 2013, but U.S. poultry exports to Russia have declined in recent years because of restrictive tariff rate quotas and phyto-sanitary measures. Exports of high-quality breeding cattle to Russia accounted for 16.8 percent of U.S. live animal exports in 2013, and are imported by Russia to upgrade its cattle and dairy herds. Russia was the 16th largest U.S. export market for tree nuts, accounting for 2.3 percent of U.S. tree nut exports. This chart is based on ERS analysis of data from the Global Agricultural Trade System.

Bulk commodity prices pull down U.S. agricultural export forecast

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fiscal 2015 U.S. agricultural exports are forecast at $143.5 billion, $9.0 billion below fiscal 2014, primarily because of the outlook for lower bulk commodity prices. Grain and feed sales are forecast down 18 percent from fiscal 2014 as lower prices, as well as reduced volumes, reduce the value of corn and wheat exports. Lower prices are expected to reduce oilseed and product exports by 15 percent, despite the outlook for larger export volumes. In contrast, horticultural product exports are forecast to grow 11 percent to $37 billion, making them the largest category of U.S. agricultural exports for the first time. Livestock products are also forecast to grow about 3 percent in fiscal 2015, primarily due to higher meat prices. The trade outlook indicates a decline in U.S. agricultural exports across global regions. Lower prices are expected to reduce the value of exports to China, the largest U.S. agricultural market, by about 7 percent to $24.0 billion. Sales to Canada, the second largest U.S. market, are forecast to hold steady at about $21.8 billion, while sales to Mexico slip about 4 percent to $18.7 billion. Find additional analysis in?Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade: December 2014.?

Emerging markets account for most of the growth in U.S. agricultural exports

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Growth in demand for food, and by extension for agricultural imports, is particularly sensitive to growth in per capita incomes in developing countries, where relatively large shares of rising incomes are typically spent on increasing both the amount and diversity of foods consumed. In contrast, consumers in more developed countries, where per capita incomes and food intake are already relatively high, are less likely to spend as much of new income on increasing the amount of food they eat. Emerging markets averaged higher rates of real per capita gross domestic product growth and accounted for all of the volume growth in U.S. exports of bulk and intermediate agricultural prod?ucts and most of the growth in U.S. exports of consumer-oriented products during 2000-15. The volume of U.S. exports of bulk and intermediate agricultural goods to developed countries actually declined during the period, and U.S. exports of consumer-oriented goods to developed markets grew only about a third as fast as to emerging markets.? This chart is from the ERS report, Global Macroeconomic Developments Drive Downturn in U.S. Agricultural Exports, released July 12.

Nearly all U.S. ethanol is produced and sold in domestic markets

Thursday, September 1, 2016

U.S. production of ethanol hit a record 14.8 billion gallons in 2015, and when combined with the carry-over stocks from the previous year and 2015 imports, the total ethanol supply reached an all-time high of 15.7 billion gallons. Nearly all ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply is produced domestically, and, over the past five years, about 94 percent of domestic production was used in the United States. Ethanol imports peaked in 2006 at 731 million gallons (equal to 12 percent of the U.S. supply), but each year since 2010 exports have exceeded imports, making the United States a net exporter of ethanol. The domestic market for ethanol is at full capacity due to the technical and regulatory constraints that limit most of the U.S. gasoline supply to a 10 percent maximum ethanol blend, so the export market is now the primary opportunity for growth. Ethanol exports peaked in 2011 at nearly 1.2 billion gallons, but have remained below 850 million gallons for the past four years. This chart is based on the ERS U.S. Bioenergy Statistics data product.

Agricultural trade balance expected to decline in 2012

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Fiscal 2012 agricultural exports are forecast at $131 billion, down $1 billion from the November forecast and $6.4 billion below fiscal 2011. The fiscal 2012 import projection is $106.5 billion. This represents a 13-percent increase from 2011. Given that the forecast for exports is down while imports are rising, the trade balance for 2012 is a surplus of $24.5 billion, down from the $43 billion for 2011. This chart is based on Table 1 in Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, AES-73, February 23, 2012.

U.S. agricultural exports weaken as dollar strengthens

Monday, August 15, 2016

Macroeconomic factors, including the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar, played a key role in the strong growth of U.S. agricultural exports that began in the early 2000s, with exports peaking in U.S. fiscal year (FY) 2014/15 (October/September). While other variables, particularly robust income gains in developing countries, supported market growth, an extended period of dollar depreciation during FY2003-14 increased the competitiveness of U.S. exports. Since FY2014, however, U.S. agricultural exports have declined in real terms as global income growth has slowed and the dollar has strengthened against the currencies of many U.S. agricultural export markets and competitors. A stronger dollar tends to have the greatest impact on U.S. exports of bulk and intermediate goods that are more readily substituted for by exports from other suppliers. Exports of consumer-oriented products that are more differentiated from those of competitors tend to be less affected by a stronger dollar. The real trade-weighted dollar exchange rate is an indicator that accounts for both the change in each country?s exchange rate with the U.S. dollar and its share of U.S. agricultural exports. This is an updated version of a chart found in Global Macroeconomic Developments Drive Downturn in U.S. Agricultural Exports released on July 12, 2016.

Manmade fibers account for a growing share of textile imports

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

U.S. net imports of textile and apparel fiber products increased for a third consecutive calendar year in 2015 to the highest on record, reaching 15.7 billion pounds (raw fiber equivalent), compared with 14.5 billion pounds in 2014. U.S. net imports consist mostly of cotton and manmade fiber products, as demand for linen, wool, and silk products remains relatively small. With manmade fiber imports expanding steadily in recent years, cotton’s share has declined consistently. In 2015, cotton textile and apparel products accounted for 44 percent of the total imports, while manmade fibers contributed nearly 49 percent. By comparison, in 2007, cotton accounted for 56 percent of all textile and apparel imports, while the share of manmade fibers was 37 percent. This chart is from the Cotton and Wool Outlook, March 2016.

After a decade of rapid growth, corn use for ethanol is projected to decline

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ethanol production in the United States is based almost entirely on corn as a feedstock. Corn‑based ethanol production is projected to fall over the next 10 years. This reflects declining overall gasoline consumption in the United States (which is mostly a 10‑percent ethanol blend, E10), infrastructural and other constraints on growth for E15 (15‑percent ethanol blend), and the small size of the market for E85 (85‑percent ethanol blend), with less-than-offsetting increases in U.S. ethanol exports. Even with the U.S. ethanol production decline, demand for corn to produce ethanol continues to be strong. While the share of U.S. corn expected to go to U.S. ethanol production falls, it accounts for over a third of total U.S. corn use throughout the projection period. This chart is based on information in USDA Agricultural Projections to 2025.

Global rice trade is projected to decline in 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Global trade in rice is expected to decline for the second consecutive year in 2016, reflecting reduced exports from India, Australia, Cambodia, and the United States, and softening demand, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Reduced imports by Nigeria—the world’s second-largest rice import market—account for the largest share of the decline in global rice trade. Imports by Nigeria are expected to fall 17 percent in 2016, the result of a recent increase in import tariffs, declining oil revenues, and foreign exchange restrictions. Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, the European Union, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are also expected to reduce rice imports this year. The decline in global trade comes despite further growth in demand by China, the world’s largest rice importing country, as well as expanded imports by the Middle East and Indonesia. Rice imports by China have been at record high levels since 2012 and are expected to grow 4 percent in 2016, reflecting prices that are lower in the global market than the domestic market, stock-building efforts by the government, and quality concerns regarding domestic rice.

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.

Canada, Mexico, and the EU supply more than half of U.S. agricultural imports

Friday, February 12, 2016

The value of U.S. agricultural imports has more than doubled since 2004, exceeding $114 billion in fiscal year 2015 and up 4 percent from the previous year. Canada and Mexico are the two largest sources of U.S. agricultural imports and account for about one-third of the total value, while the combined value of imports from the countries that comprise the European Union roughly equal the value of imports from Canada. Together, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union account for just over half of the value of agricultural products that the United States imports, and this share has held relatively constant over the past decade although the import shares for Canada and the EU have declined, while Mexico’s has grown. The $4.3 billion in agricultural imports from China in 2015 still accounts for less than 4 percent of the U.S. total, but has grown by nearly 170 percent since 2004. This data in this chart is from the ERS Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States data set.

Agricultural exports and trade balance are declining

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The value of U.S. agricultural exports and imports increased each year from fiscal year (FY) 2009 (October 1-September 30), through FY 2014, when the agricultural trade balance reached an all-time high of $43.1 billion. In FY 2015 the value of agricultural exports fell by 8.3 percent while imports grew by 4.5 percent, cutting the trade balance to $25.7 billion. The forecast for FY 2016 is for this pattern to continue: lower exports and higher imports are expected to push the agricultural trade surplus below $10 billion for the first time since 2006. Lower commodity prices account for some of the decline in the value of exports, but a stronger U.S. dollar also plays a role. Unlike in 2009 when both exports and imports fell due to the global recession, in 2015 and 2016 imports are growing at the same time that exports are falling, reflecting the greater purchasing power of the U.S. dollar in international markets and the reduced purchasing power of foreign currencies to buy U.S. goods. This chart is from the USDA/ERS Foreign Agricultural Trade of the United States(FATUS) dataset and the December Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade report.

Charts of Note header image for left nav