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Export markets important for U.S. tree nut producers

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Unlike the fruit and vegetable sectors, the U.S. tree nut industry (as a whole) is a net exporter. While almonds, produced mainly in California, have been exported at high levels for decades, many other tree nuts have expanded the share of domestic supplies sold on the export market. U.S. almond, walnut, pistachio, and hazelnut production are dependent on exports for more than 50 percent of sales, for example. Expanding export demand has driven domestic grower prices higher, although record tree nut production in recent years has stabilized prices for most varieties. The largest markets for U.S. tree nuts include Hong Kong, India, Spain, but trade is widely dispersed across the European Union and Southeast and East Asia. Almonds represented 57 percent of all U.S. tree nut exports, by volume, in 2017. Although exports of tree nuts have grown at a faster rate, domestic use of tree nuts has expanded as well. Domestic use of tree nuts has doubled since 2000, while exports have tripled. This chart appears in the April ERS Amber Waves data feature, "Consumer Demand for Fresh Fruit Drives Increases Across Sector."

U.S. citrus production expected to fall further in 2017/18

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

U.S. citrus production continues to decline. At the current forecast of 6.16 million tons for the 2017/18 marketing year, ERS expects the U.S. citrus crop to drop 21 percent from the previous season. The decline reflects expected reductions in national production across all major citrus commodities and overall smaller crops in the four major-producing States (Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona). The drop in citrus production is expected to be the greatest in Florida, largely driven by crop losses from Hurricane Irma. At the same time, orange and grapefruit crops are anticipated to have the largest declines in national citrus output, with reductions of as much as 25 percent and 22 percent, respectively, if realized. Tight supplies have pushed citrus prices higher in the domestic market. January 2018 prices for fresh oranges, grapefruit, and lemons were at their highest average levels for the month since the 1990s. The long term downward trend in orange production is largely attributable to citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease that can ultimately kill orange trees. The majority of citrus farms in Florida have been battling the disease since the mid-2000s. This chart appears in the bi-annual ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter, released March 2018.

U.S. melon availability down from record levels reached in 2016

Friday, April 13, 2018

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.

Hurricane Irma further reduced already shrinking Florida citrus production

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

On September 10, 2017, Hurricane Irma made U.S. landfall on Cudjoe Key, FL. Despite weakening as it moved up the Florida coast, Irma’s high winds and damaging rains affected a large swath of the State, including key citrus and winter vegetable production areas. The citrus crop–consisting of oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus–was particularly hard hit as the hurricane knocked down ripening fruit, uprooted trees, and flooded citrus groves. Further, fruit that remains on hurricane-weakened trees is at increased risk of dropping. Before the hurricane, early projections reflected an ongoing contraction driven by the spread of citrus greening disease, a bacterial disease that can ultimately kill orange trees. In October, the USDA forecasted post hurricane Florida citrus production at nearly 60 million boxes. In January 2018, a clearer picture of the hurricane’s effect on citrus production emerged, and Florida’s production was trimmed to under 52 million, 34 percent below 2016/17 marketing year levels. This chart appears in the February 2018 Amber Waves finding, "Hurricane Irma Hits Florida’s Agricultural Sector."

The United States is the world’s second leading exporter of fresh cherries with Canada as its leading destination

Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. sweet cherries continue to be competitive in the international market, although the U.S. role in the global cherry export market has diminished slightly during the past two decades as other major exporters have gained ground. Once the world’s leading fresh cherry exporter, the United States now ranks second, next to Chile. The Nation accounted for nearly 20 percent of the world’s average export volume during 2014-16 and around one-quarter of the average world cherry export value. During this 3-year period, the United States exported an average of 175.2 million pounds, while Chile exported an average of 211.0 million pounds. Canada is now the largest export destination for U.S. fresh cherries, outranking Japan, which dominated this market during the 1990s and most years from 2000 to 2005. More than one-third of total annual U.S. cherry export volume went to Canada during 2010-16. South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are also key markets for U.S. fresh cherries and together receive over 40 percent of total export volume annually. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Special Article, "U.S. Cherries," released in September 2017.

U.S. per capita fresh pear use continues to decline

Friday, October 27, 2017

In August, USDA forecast the 2017 U.S. pear crop to decline for a fourth consecutive year to 1.41 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. If realized, this year’s production will be the smallest production reported since 1980, pointing to stronger pear prices during the 2017/18 marketing season (July-June). Forecast lower production in Washington State (down 20 percent from the previous year), the largest pear-producing State, is driving the smaller overall U.S. crop. One cause for Washington State and the greater Pacific Northwest’s decline, was a long winter and cold spring, which delayed the growth of pears during that period. Declining production and higher prices have translated into reduced per capita pear consumption, which has trended downward for most of the last 20 years except for a temporary resurgence in the mid-2000s. Higher prices from lower pear output in 2017 are expected to diminish demand, leading to a projected per capita use of just over 2.5 pounds per person. This would be the lowest total since 1984. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter, released on September 29, 2017.

The fall apple harvest is expected to dip slightly this year, but still plenty to go around

Friday, October 13, 2017

As the fall season commences, the apple harvest reaches its peak, marked by harvest festivals around the country. This year, the forecast for total apple production is down slightly relative to the near-record harvest of the 2016 marketing year, but is still the sixth highest total since 2000. The slight dip in production is expected to provide a boost to U.S. apple prices, leading to greater returns to producers in key apple-producing States like Washington, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unlike other popular fruits like bananas or blueberries, the majority —over 90 percent—of domestic fresh apple consumption is supplied by U.S. producers. In addition to supplying the domestic market, nearly one-third of the fresh market crop is exported to countries like Mexico, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Apples are traditionally eaten as a fresh fruit, although uses extend over many processed forms, such as juice and cider, applesauce, frozen, dried, and fresh slices. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter, released on September 29, 2017.

U.S. imports 97 percent of its papaya with 80 percent coming from Mexico

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

As of August 8, 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a total of 109 people who were infected in 16 States with two strains of Salmonella after consuming papaya. The CDC determined that the likely source of contamination is a farm in Mexico. U.S. papaya imports from Mexico more than doubled from 154 million pounds in 2000 to 452 million pounds in 2016. This dramatic rise is likely because of the diverse American diet that is driven by an increase in the immigrant population, especially from Latin America and Asia where papaya is more plentiful. Mexican production has accounted for 67 percent of total imports in 2007 to 82 percent of total imports in 2016. Currently, imports account for approximately 97 percent of domestic availability in the United States; meaning that Mexican production accounts for approximately 80 percent of all domestically available papaya. The Salmonella contaminations are not likely to have a significant impact on supply of U.S. imports since the incident appears to be isolated to one farm, but consumer demand has been shown to respond to food safety outbreaks. The data for this chart are from the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Yearbook tables updated in August 2017.

Berries led growth in frozen fruit consumption over the last three decades

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

America’s love affair with frozen smoothies continues to grow and along with it consumption of its quintessential ingredient, frozen fruit. Between the early 1980s and 2015, the annual supply of frozen fruit available for consumption, led by a doubling in demand for frozen berries, grew by 61 percent to 4.8 pounds per person—about 5 percent of 2015’s total U.S. fruit availability. While strawberries remain consumers’ favorite frozen fruit—accounting for 40 percent of availability in 2015—blueberries and raspberries increased their share from 8 percent in 1980-85 to 20 percent in 2010-15. Peaches led the growth in availability of non-berry frozen fruits, followed by cherries. Frozen apples, used mainly in commercial and foodservice baking, lost market share, dropping from 17 to 8 percent of frozen fruit availability over 1980-2015. Consumer demand for healthy, convenient foods and manufacturers’ use of improved freezing technologies to improve product quality, along with colorful packaging and smoothie-ready fruit combinations and add-ins, underlie the growth in frozen fruit consumption. The data for this chart are from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, updated July 26, 2017.

Avocado imports play a significant role in meeting growing U.S. demand

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Per capita use of avocados tripled since the beginning of the 2000s and now totals over 7 pounds per person annually in the United States. In the 2015/16 marketing year, total domestic availability reached a record high of 2.3 billion pounds. In addition to the country’s large and growing Hispanic population (who regard avocados as a staple), the rise of the fruit’s availability reflects its growing popularity for use in foods like guacamole and in various sandwiches. Increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of “healthy fats,” like the mono-unsaturated fats found in avocados, has also played a role in its growth. Domestically, avocados are grown in Florida (on average, over 16 percent of total), California (over 80 percent), and Hawaii (less than 1 percent), and net production has not kept up with consumer demand. Nearly all of the growth in per capita consumption since the mid-2000s has been satisfied by rising imports, particularly from Mexico which comprised a vast majority of total import volume. Chile once supplied a majority of U.S. avocado imports but was outranked by Mexico beginning in 2005. Phytosanitary reasons prevented entry of Mexican avocados into the United States for many years, but since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the country’s limited access to the U.S. market has slowly expanded. Now, imports from Mexico are allowed in all 50 States on a year-round basis. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report released in April 2017.

U.S. fresh blueberry demand continues to rise

Monday, April 17, 2017

Per capita use of blueberries nearly tripled since 2006, largely attributable to growing demand based on the potential health benefits of berries in the diet. In recent years, farmers have expanded production to help meet this demand. As a result, net domestic production doubled and imports increased by almost four times. In addition to increased demand, consumer preferences for year-round availability of popular fresh fruits and vegetables necessitates a greater reliance on imported goods. Domestic blueberry production primarily occurs in the spring and summer seasons. In the fall and winter, southern hemisphere countries like Chile are in their growing season and supply the United States with a significant share of its blueberry imports. In 2016, net domestic production fell slightly, while imports increased. This resulted from lower than expected production in States that normally supply the fresh market like, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and California. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report released in April 2017.

Retail orange juice prices dropped swiftly to close out 2016

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Average retail prices for orange juice were above long-term averages for 2015 and most of 2016, but a surprising drop in October brought prices back in line with years prior. Retail prices increased because of declining domestic production, which has been below long-term averages since 2013. The United States also imports a large amount of orange juice with the majority coming from Brazil. Forecasts for Brazilian orange juice production are 30 percent higher for the 2016/17 marketing year compared to the prior year, and will likely lead to more robust exports from the country. October 2016 imports were more than double the previous year and likely signaled to retailers an increase in supply for the upcoming year. This chart is drawn from data reported in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut dataset updated in January 2017.

Steady increases in at-home consumption of berries resulted in a rising share of U.S. berry consumption occurring at home

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Flavor, healthfulness, convenience, and year-round availability have contributed to increasing consumer demand for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other berries, with per capita loss-adjusted availability growing from an average of 4.5 pounds per person per year during 1994-98 to 6.6 pounds during 2007-08 and to 9.9 pounds in 2014. Linking ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data with food intake surveys from 1994-2008 reveals that berries, like other fruit, are mainly consumed at home rather than away from home at eating out places. The increase in berry consumption comes exclusively from purchases at grocery stores (the food-at-home market). The at-home share of berry consumption rose from 83 percent during 1994-98 to 89-91 percent during 2003-08. The loss-adjusted availability of berries consumed at home rose from 3.7 pounds per person per year during 1994-98 to 5.9 pounds during 2007-08, while away-from-home consumption stayed just shy of 0.8 pounds per person. This chart appears in the ERS report U.S. Food Commodity Availability by Food Source, 1994-2008, December 2016.

Apples/applesauce and pineapples accounted for 56 percent of canned fruit availability in 2010-14

Thursday, January 19, 2017

According to ERS’s food availability data, 14.2 pounds per capita of canned fruit were available for consumption by U.S. consumers in 2010-14, down after averaging 21 pounds per person in 1990-94 and 25.1 pounds per person in 1970-74. Canned apple and applesauce availability was 4.1 pounds per person in 2010-14, while canned pineapple availability—the second highest—was 3.9 pounds per person. With the exception of olives, per person availability fell for all canned fruit between 1970-74 and 2010-14. For example, in 1970-74 canned peaches led canned fruit availability at 6.5 pounds per person, but dropped to 2.7 pounds per person in 2010-14—a 58-percent decline. The availability of canned pears fell from 3.8 pounds per person in 1970-74 to 2 pounds per person in 2010-14. One reason for declines in canned fruit availability is that some consumers switched to fresh fruit. Canned fruit’s share of total U.S. fruit availability decreased from 10.6 percent in 1970-74 to 5.6 percent in 2010-14, while fresh fruit availability grew by 34.5 pounds per person and boosted fresh fruit’s share from 41 percent to 52 percent. The data for this chart are from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

Chinese imports of fruit continue to rise as U.S. competes for market share

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The rise in Chinese living standards has spurred demand for a more diverse and nutritious diet, leading to a surge in China’s fruit imports. Fruit is a discretionary item consumed as a dessert, given as gifts, and distributed at meetings and banquets. With greater disposable income, demand for fruit (particularly fresh fruit) has grown rapidly. In the most recent 8 years, import volume grew more than three times to 3.8 million metric tons in 2015. The United States was a pioneer in opening China’s fruit market during the 1990s, but China’s recent surge of imports came mainly from tropical and Southern Hemisphere countries. The United States remains the predominant Northern-Hemisphere supplier, reflecting quality, extended seasonal availability, and other competitive attributes—but its share of total Chinese fruit imports declined for most of the new millennium. In 2015, there was a small uptick in the U.S. share moving from 2.6 percent to 3.5 percent, but far below the peak share of 11.5 percent in 2001. This chart appears in the ERS U.S. Fruit Competes for China Market Share special article published in September 2016.

California almond production forecast to reach record levels

Monday, October 17, 2016

Almond production in California is projected to reach a record high 2.05 billion pounds in the 2016/17 crop year. This would be an 8 percent increase from a year earlier and slightly higher than the previous record of 2.03 billion pounds in 2011/12. While many areas are still under drought, trees have shown signs of recovery from multiple years of water deprivation. The increase in production may put negative pressure on prices received by growers. After a strong year of production, for example, grower prices fell from $4.00 per pound in 2014/15 to $2.84 per pound in 2015/16. This resulted in a steep decline in production value for the year, falling from a record high of $7.39 billion dollars in 2014/15 to $5.33 billion dollars in 2015/16. Even with the sharp drop in value, this remained the third-highest crop value on record. With prices high relative to long-term averages, almond producers still have an incentive to increase production. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook report in September 2016.

Non-Hispanic Blacks were the only racial/ethnic group to increase whole fruit and total fruit consumption between 1994-98 and 2007-08

Friday, September 2, 2016

A recent linking of ERS?s loss-adjusted food availability data with food intake surveys from 1994-2008 revealed that Non-Hispanic Blacks were the only group of the racial/ethnic groups examined that had higher whole fruit and total fruit consumption in 2007-08 compared with 1994-98. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of a person?s recommended fruit consumption be whole fruit. Non-Hispanic Blacks increased their whole fruit consumption to 71.4 pounds per person in 2007-08?an amount still below that of Hispanics and the "other" racial/ethnic group. All four racial/ethnic groups consumed smaller quantities of orange juice and larger quantities of apple juice in 2007-08. Non-Hispanic Blacks and Hispanics had the largest increases in apple juice consumption. This chart appears in?A Closer Look at Declining Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Using Linked Data Sources? in the July 2016 issue of ERS?s Amber Waves magazine.

California droughts are but one factor in higher retail produce prices

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The severity and duration of the ongoing drought in California has raised concerns over its role in rising food prices at the grocery store, especially for fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2012, California produced nearly 50 percent (by value) of the nation?s vegetables and non-citrus fruit. Droughts in California are generally associated with higher retail prices for produce, but price increases are lagged due to the time it takes for weather conditions and planting decisions to alter crop production, which then influence retail prices. In 2005, following five years of drought, retail fruit prices rose 3.7 percent and retail vegetable prices increased 4 percent. Prices continued to rise in 2006, one year after drought conditions began to improve. However, other factors such as energy prices and consumer demand also affect retail produce prices. For example, prices for fresh produce fell in 2009 despite drought conditions, as the 2007-09 recession reduced foreign and domestic demand for many retail foods. As of October 2014, ERS analysts are forecasting fresh fruit prices to increase 4.5 to 5.5 percent in 2014 and vegetable prices to be 2 to 3 percent higher. This chart appears in the Food Prices and Consumers section of the California Drought: Farm and Food Impacts page on the ERS website. Information on ERS?s food price forecasts can be found in ERS?s Food Price Outlook data product, updated October 24, 2014.

U.S. strawberry consumption continues to grow

Thursday, September 1, 2016

U.S. per capita strawberry use has generally trended higher since 1980, and the current production forecast supports the outlook for continued growth in 2014. Per capita use of fresh strawberries is expanding the fastest, reaching a record 7.9 pounds in 2013, in response to greater awareness of the importance of healthy diets, increased year-round availability through domestic production and imports, and adoption of improved varieties. The current USDA forecast for strawberry production in the three major strawberry-producing States?California, Oregon, and Florida?indicates combined output of 3.05 billion pounds in 2014, up 3 percent from last year. Production is forecast to increase 2 percent in California and 11 percent in Florida, but decline 3 percent in Oregon. Despite drought conditions, strawberry area in California is forecast to remain steady from a year ago at 41,500 acres, with higher yields per acre boosting production to a record 2.82 billion pounds. Even with a larger domestic crop and increased imports from Mexico and Canada, retail prices of fresh strawberries are averaging about 12 percent higher during the first 10 months of 2014 compared with a year earlier. Find this chart and additional analysis in Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook: September 2014.

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

Thursday, September 1, 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".

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