• Vegetables and Pulses Outlook is an electronic report, issued quarterly in newsletter format, featuring current intelligence and forecasts of changing conditions in the U.S. vegetable and pulse sectors. Topics include production, consumption, prices, trade, and more.
  • Vegetables and Melons Outlook: February 2011 (February 2011) presents a financial snapshot of U.S. vegetable and melon farms by region and farm size over three 3-year periods (1999-2007).
  • Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: Analyzing the Processing Cucumber Market (February 2011) highlights the anticipated consequences of the 2008 Farm Act's Planting Transferability Pilot Program (PTPP) on processing (pickling) cucumber plantings.
  • The U.S. Produce Industry and Labor: Facing the Future in a Global Economy (November 2010) analyzes the labor situation in the U.S. fruit and vegetable production sector, assessing how particular fruit and vegetable commodities might adjust if labor rates increased. Results suggest a range of possible adjustment scenarios, including increased mechanization, reduced output, and greater use of labor aids to improve labor productivity.
  • Production Expenses of Specialized Vegetable and Melon Farms (see Vegetables and Melons Outlook: September 2009 , September 2008) analyzes the major expense components of specialized U.S. and regional vegetable and melon farms during 1998-2006 using data from USDA's Agricultural Resource Management Survey. Labor was found to account for 30 percent of U.S. cash expenses, followed by fertilizer and agricultural chemicals at 18 percent.
  • Michigan: A State at the Intersection of the Debate Over Full Planting Flexibility (February 2007) examines the impacts of eliminating the restriction on the planting of fruit and vegetable crops for a broad set of Michigan fruit, vegetable, and wild rice crops (dry beans, pickling cucumbers, processing tomatoes, fresh market tomatoes, squash, and blueberries). In many cases, barriers to entry would be high enough to significantly limit, or even prohibit, movement of program crop acreage into fruit and vegetable production, except for movement into dry bean production.
  • "Relaxing Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions" (Amber Waves, February 2007) finds that market effects would likely be limited and confined to specific regions and commodities. Eliminating these planting restrictions for commodity program participants might enable some producers to switch from program crops to fruits and vegetables in such areas as California, the upper Midwest and the coastal plain in the Southeastern States. For the full report, see  Eliminating Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: How Would Markets Be Affected?  (November 2006).
  • Fruit and Vegetable Backgrounder (April 2006) describes the economic characteristics of the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry, providing supply, demand, and policy background for an industry that accounts for nearly a third of U.S. crop cash receipts and a fifth of U.S. agricultural exports. In both domestic and international markets, this complex and diverse industry faces a variety of challenges, ranging from immigration reform and its effect on labor availability to international competitiveness.
  • Urban Influence and the U.S. Vegetable Industry (November 1998) analyzes Census population and acreage data to examine the complex relationship between population growth and vegetable production. Findings indicate that, although urbanization has caused shifts in land use, overall vegetable area has not diminished in metropolitan counties over the past several decades. Given its high production intensity/high net return characteristics, vegetable production may be one of the last agricultural enterprises to disappear from urbanizing areas.
  • Usual Planting and Harvesting Dates for Fresh Market and Processing Vegetables (May 2007) is a useful reference for approximate planting and harvesting dates by State and season for 22 commercial fresh market vegetables and melons, nine processing vegetables, and strawberries.


  • How Much Do Fruits and Vegetables Cost? (February 2011) estimates the average price at retail stores of a pound and an edible cup equivalent (or, for juices, a pint and an edible cup equivalent) of 153 commonly consumed fresh and processed fruits and vegetables using the 2008 Nielsen Homescan data. An adult on a 2,000-calorie diet could satisfy dietary recommendations for vegetable and fruit consumption at an average of $2 to $2.50 per day.
  • Price Trends Are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods (March 2008) reports that an increase in the price of fruits and vegetables relative to less healthy foods could reduce consumers' incentives to purchase produce and result in less healthy diets. For commonly consumed fresh fruits and vegetables, analysis of price trends reveals a price decline similar to that of dessert and snack foods, which suggests the price of a healthy diet has not changed relative to an unhealthy one.
  • Price Premiums Hold on as U.S. Organic Produce Market Expands (May 2005) explores price premiums and market margins for carrots, broccoli, and mesclun mix. Fresh produce has long been an important component of the organic food sector, and a significant contributor to the organic industry's growth over the last decade.
  • How Much Do Americans Pay for Fruits and Vegetables? (July 2004) uses ACNielsen Homescan data on 1999 household food purchases from all types of retail outlets to estimate an annual retail price per pound and per serving for 69 forms of fruits and 85 forms of vegetables. Consumers can meet the recommendation of three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables daily for 64 cents.
  • Price Premiums Hold on as U.S. Organic Produce Market Expands (November 1999) analyzes the degree to which changes in selected fresh vegetable grower prices are reflected in retail prices. Findings indicate that retail prices show the greatest response to changes in grower prices for carrots and tomatoes.

Food Safety

  • "Consumers' Response to the 2006 Foodborne Illness Outbreak Linked to Spinach" (Amber Waves, March 2010) examines the September 2006 U.S. foodborne illness outbreak that was traced to contaminated spinach. While spinach expenditures fell, consumers turned to other leafy greens as substitutes. The longer term drop in retail expenditures on fresh spinach products was almost matched by gains in expenditures on other leafy greens.
  • "Outbreak Linked to Spinach Forces Reassessment of Food Safety Practices" (Amber Waves, June 2007) discusses the 2006 U.S. foodborne illness outbreak that was traced to contaminated spinach. While the risk of contracting a foodborne illness from eating spinach is low, spinach and leafy greens have been associated with many outbreaks because of contamination with E. coli O157:H7. Although many growers already follow voluntary U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines to reduce the risk of microbial contamination, the outbreak forced the spinach and leafy green industries to consider new approaches to food safety.
  • The Economics of Food Safety: The Case of Green Onions and Hepatitis A Outbreaks (December 2004) examines the economics of food safety using the example of recent hepatitis A outbreaks in the United States associated with green onions from Mexico. The report reviews the incentives to adopt additional food safety practices and the economic impact of an outbreak on green onion growers in Mexico.
  • Food Traceability: One Ingredient in a Safe and Efficient Food Supply (April 2004) describes the results of an investigation into the amount, type, and adequacy of traceability systems in the United States, focusing on the fresh produce, cattle/beef, and grain sectors. The investigation finds that these systems vary across industries as firms balance the private costs and benefits to determine the efficient level of traceability. For the full report, see Traceability in the U.S. Food Supply: Economic Theory and Industry Studies
  • (November 2003) reviews the private and public responses to food safety problems of imported produce by examining three cases: Guatemalan raspberries, Mexican strawberries, and Mexican cantaloupe. Outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with imports affect U.S. consumers, growers of the contaminated product, and, frequently, U.S. producers. While the three cases focus on fruit, the lessons learned also apply to vegetables.


  • Peru: An Emerging Exporter of Fruits and Vegetables (December 2010) provides an overview of performance, advantages, and challenges of the Peruvian fruits and vegetables export industry. Three commodity case studies—asparagus, processed artichokes, and table grapes—highlight different degrees of competition with U.S. industries and impacts on U.S. growers.
  • Increased U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (see Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: September 2007 ) have allowed U.S. consumers to eat more fruit and vegetables and enjoy year-round access to various fresh produce. Primary suppliers are the North American Free Trade Agreement region for fresh vegetables, the Southern Hemisphere countries for off-season fresh fruit, and equatorial countries for bananas.
  • China's Rising Fruit and Vegetable Exports Challenge U.S. Industries (February 2006) reports that most of China's fruit and vegetable exports are processed products, which do not yet pose a serious challenge to U.S. exports. However, China's fresh vegetable sales to Japan and other Asian markets and its apple exports to Southeast Asia compete directly with U.S. products. Over time, China faces stiff challenges in improving the quality and safety of its products, upgrading its marketing and distribution infrastructure, and reducing marketing costs.
  • European Trading Arrangements in Fruits and Vegetables (July 2004) describes the extensive participation by the European Union (EU) in regional and preferential trading arrangements. Over 70 percent of EU fruit and vegetable imports are from countries benefitting from preferential treatment for some portion of trade. Exports from countries without preferences, including the United States, are at a disadvantage in EU markets.
  • Global Trade Patterns in Fruits and Vegetables (June 2004) examines the domestic markets and trade experiences of major fruit and vegetable traders to better understand the economic and institutional factors affecting trade. With major advances in produce handling and transport, combined with trade agreements and changing consumers preferences as incomes rise, a more global market is providing consumers with greater year-round variety.
  • "The U.S. Ag Trade Balance...More Than Just a Number" (Amber Waves, February 2004) explains why the value of U.S. agricultural imports has been increasing faster than exports, a trend closely tied to higher per capita consumption of fruits, vegetables, and wine. The article further discusses prospects for U.S. food imports and the agricultural trade balance as the size, diversity, and tastes of the U.S. population change through the decade.
  • Country-of-Origin Labeling: Theory and Observation (January 2004) examines the economic rationale behind the various claims about the effect of country-of-origin labeling and indicates that mandatory country-of-origin labeling would likely generate more costs than benefits. Voluntary country-of-origin labeling is an option, but food suppliers have generally discounted the U.S. label as a quality attribute that can attract sufficient consumer interest.
  • Regulatory Barriers in International Horticultural Markets (January 2004) examines the impact of multilateral trade rules on the use of sanitary and phytosanitary measures applied to fruit and vegetable imports. These rules have lowered many unnecessary barriers to horticultural trade, primarily through requirements that regulations be transparent and based on science.
  • Produce, Food Safety, and International Trade (see Food Safety and International Trade , November 2003) reviews the private and public responses to food safety problems of imported produce by examining three cases: Guatemalan raspberries, Mexican strawberries, and Mexican cantaloupe. Outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with imports affect U.S. consumers, growers of the contaminated product, and, frequently, U.S. producers. While the three cases focus on fruit, the lessons learned also apply to vegetables.
  • Vegetable Policies in Japan (November 2002) provides a detailed description and analysis of policies used by Japan to support its vegetable producers and to regulate vegetable markets. Domestic policies include compensation to farmers when market prices fall below a moving average of historical prices, subsidies to make farms and processing more efficient, and subsidized hazard insurance for greenhouses and some field crops.
  • China Increases Exports of Fresh and Frozen Vegetables to Japan (see Vegetables and Melons Outlook: August 2002 , August 2002) examines China's sharply increased exports of fresh and frozen vegetables to Japan in the 1990s. U.S. exports of frozen vegetables to Japan, mainly prepared potatoes and sweet corn, meet a minimal challenge from China's shipments. In comparison, China's exports to Japan of fresh vegetables, including broccoli, onions, and asparagus (the three major categories of U.S. fresh vegetable exports to Japan) have grown strongly in recent years.
  • NAFTA COMMODITY SUPPLEMENT (April 2000) analyzes the impact of NAFTA on vegetables such as tomatoes, dry beans, and potatoes.
  • Trade Issues Facing U.S. Horticulture in the WTO Negotiations (see Vegetables and Melons Outlook: August 2001 , August 2001) provides an overview of issues affecting U.S. trade in fruits and vegetables that are likely to be considered during upcoming agricultural trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Tariff reductions, tariff-rate quotas, export subsidies, and domestic support are discussed, as are the impacts of anti-dumping and countervailing measures and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement on horticultural trade flows.
  • The Role of Exports in the U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Industry (April 1999, page 22) details the expansion of fruit and vegetable exports during the 1990s. The article found that nearly 10 percent of fruit and vegetable supply was exported in 1997 and fruit crops were more export-dependent than vegetables.
  • Import Penetration in the U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Industry (November 1997) examines the extent to which imports have penetrated U.S. fruit and vegetable markets during the 1990s. The article found that 16 percent of all fruits and vegetables consumed domestically in 1996 came from imports.




  • U.S. Fresh Produce Markets: Marketing Channels, Trade Practices, and Retail Pricing Behavior (September 2003) synthesizes results of a multiphase project that examined the dynamics of produce markets, produce shipper-retailer relationships, and the relative market influence of producers, retailers, and consumers. In the past decade, retail consolidation, changing consumer demand, marketing practices, and new technology have transformed U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable markets.
  • U.S. Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Marketing: Emerging Trade Practices, Trends, and Issues (January 2001) compares trade practices in 1999 with those prevalent in 1994, placing them in a broader context of evolving shipper/retailer relationships. For instance, the incidence and magnitude of fees and services associated with transactions has increased, in part because of retail and shipper consolidation, changes in consumer preferences, and technological innovation.
  • Marketing Winter Vegetables from Mexico  PDF icon (16x16) (April 1998) analyzes the marketing of Mexican vegetables to the United States during the winter. Information gathered from interviews with Mexican producers, U.S. distributors, and industry organizations describes how winter vegetables from Mexico—including tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, summer squash, and snap beans—are marketed to the United States.


U.S. Department of Agriculture

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International Organizations