Market Outlook

Fruit and Tree Nuts Market Outlook

ERS conducts market outlook activities on the U.S. fruit and tree nuts industry. Details on major changes and events in the various commodity markets comprising this industry are published in the Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook. ERS also provides over 20 years of time-series data for fresh and processed fruit and tree nuts through Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook published annually in October.

The following interactive content is based on:

Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2016

Tight supplies due to reduced production of several major fruit crops in 2015/16 contributed to fairly strong grower and consumer prices. But production is forecast to rebound for several of these fruit crops in 2016/17, which will likely put some downward pressure on prices. Major tree nut crops — almonds and walnuts — are forecast to increase again in 2016/17, potentially reaching record-high levels.

Production declines for several major fruit crops in 2015/16, increases for major tree nuts

Lower production levels limited fruit supplies for a number of major fruit crops in 2015/16. The U.S. citrus crop was forecast at a little over 8 million tons, down 6 percent from the 9 million tons produced in 2014/15. With the exception of tangerines/mandarins, all major citrus crops were forecast lower. Cold, wet conditions and disease in Florida were among the main factors behind the decline in citrus production. Apple and pear supplies were also down following smaller harvests in the fall of 2015. Except for almonds and walnuts, most tree nut crops declined in 2015/16.

The 2016/17 marketing year is already underway for most fruit and tree nut crops. Several of these crops are forecast to see a reversal from last year’s production declines. U.S. grape production is forecast up slightly, with anticipated flat production in California—the dominant producer—and increases in most other producing States. The U.S. peach crop, on the other hand, is forecast to decline for the seventh consecutive year, with many producing States, including California, anticipating reduced production. While production is expected to decline in several apple-producing States, increased output from western U.S. States is driving the forecast for a larger national apple crop this year. Forecast increased U.S. apple production this fall will coincide with the anticipated smaller pear crop. Due to favorable weather, forecast increased cranberry production in Wisconsin—the largest producer—will offset declines in other States, driving up overall production.

U.S. almond output—which accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. tree nut production—is forecast at 2.05 billion pounds in 2016/17, up moderately from the previous season and, if realized, just barely surpassing the previous record of 2.03 billion pounds in 2011/12. Walnut and hazelnut outputs are also forecast larger in 2016/17, with the walnut crop—benefitting from sufficient chilling hours and sufficient winter rains—anticipated to reach a record high. Almonds and walnuts are produced almost totally in California while hazelnut production is centered in Oregon.

Grower and retail prices continue fairly strong for most fruit

Tight supplies due to lower production have kept grower prices strong for most fruit in 2015/16, except for oranges and lemons. With these strong prices, the grower price index for all fruit—a measure of the average change in prices received by growers—rose to 125 (2011=100) in July 2016, up from 122 in July 2015. Prices were at record highs during the first 2 months of 2016 before falling below relatively strong year-ago levels from March through June (as lower orange and lemon prices outweighed the higher prices for other fruit).

Grape production is anticipated to increase in 2016/17 but lower shipments thus far have elevated May-July fresh-grape prices. In contrast, increased shipments over the same 3-month period have driven down fresh peach and strawberry prices. Pear prices continue strong, reflecting the forecast smaller crop in 2016/17 (marketing year: July-June). Despite a forecast larger crop in 2016/17(August-July), early-season apple prices remain strong, aided by the lack of storage supplies from the previous harvest and strong 2015/16 end-of-season prices.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for fresh fruit has remained strong in 2016. The CPI was up 2 percent in August 2016, compared with the same month in 2015. Higher retail prices for grapefruit, lemons, Red Delicious apples, Thompson seedless grapes, and peaches boosted the CPI in August, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.