Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade

Projections for U.S. agricultural exports in FY2018 are raised from the previous forecast, due in large part to higher corn volumes and unit values and strong demand for distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS)

  • FY2018 agricultural exports are projected at $140.0 billion, up $1.0 billion from the August forecast
  • Higher corn volumes and unit values and strong demand for DDGS are largely responsible for driving grain and feed exports up $1.0 billion to $29.4 billion.
  • Soybean export volumes continue to set records, raising the soybean forecast $200 million to $24.1 billion, which offsets expected declines in soybean meal and oil.
  • Cotton exports are up $300 million on higher volumes and unit values.
  • Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are raised $200 million to $29.7 billion, largely due to higher forecasts for beef, poultry, and animal products such as lard and tallow.
  • By contrast, pork exports are forecast down $200 million to $5.2 billion, as growing global supplies pressure prices. Wheat exports are also forecast at $6.3 billion, down $100 million as lower unit values more than offset higher volume. Unit values are lower on pressure from abundant global supplies, especially in Russia. 

Similarly, the U.S. agricultural imports forecast for FY2018 is $1.5 billion above the previous projection, driven by an increase in imports of animal products

  • The expected increases in imports of animal products are driving the upward adjustment in the forecast, but higher projected supplies of horticultural and grains imports also contributed to the change.
  • The FY2018 projection for beef is raised $200 million to $4.9 billion on higher volumes as demand for processing grade beef remains strong. The Cattle and calves forecast is raised $400 million to $1.7 billion as robust demand spurs increased shipments.
  • Due to larger volumes, the Fresh fruit imports forecast is expected to be $200 million higher in FY2018 than previously expected. The forecast for tree nuts has also been increased, by $100 million, as the trend of high demand for foreign cashews and pecans is expected to continue.
  • Coffee products are expected to be worth $6.4 billion due to larger than previously expected quantities imported. Cocoa product imports are now projected to be worth $5.2 billion, a $100 million decrease from the previous forecast, due to lower unit values than FY2017.
  • Imports of grains and feed products are forecast to grow by $200 million from the previous forecast to $11.3 billion, due to projected increases in U.S. demand for rice and higher expected prices for high protein wheat.

The U.S. agricultural trade surplus forecast is $23.0 billion in FY2018, up from $21.3 billion in FY2017

China is expected to remain the largest market for U.S. agricultural exports

  • China remains the largest U.S. market at $22.6 billion, which is $600 million higher than FY2017. The forecast for Vietnam is raised $400 million to $2.8 billion, largely due to the reopening of the DDGS market to U.S. supplies and higher expected sales of cotton.
  • The forecast for Mexico is up $400 million from the last projection, to $19.2 billion, as sharply lower local sorghum supplies are expected to boost U.S. corn sales to meet Mexico’s feed demand. Expected exports to Canada are unchanged at $21.2 billion, which is $800 million higher than FY2017.
  • The EU is forecast at $11.8 billion, which is the same as the previous forecast but $200 million higher than FY2017.

Mexico is expected to remain top U.S. agricultural supplier in FY2018, followed by Canada and the EU

  • Mexico’s projected sales total is now $23.6 billion, $500 million above the previous forecast, due to increases in expected imports of fresh fruits, tree nuts, and cattle that more than offset slightly lower supplies of fresh vegetables.
  • The value of Canadian agricultural products sold to the United States is expected to increase by $600 million from the previous forecast to $22.4 billion, due to upward adjustments to U.S. imports of livestock and meats as well as bulk grains such as wheat.
  • Imports from South America are projected to equal the August forecast at $13.3 billion, a $600 million drop from FY2017. Imports from Chile are expected to decrease $100 million from the previous forecast due to lower expected sales of horticultural products. However, Colombia’s sugar and tropical product shipments, particularly of coffee products, are expected to be $100 million greater than previously forecast.
  • Projections for imports from Australia and New Zealand are each raised by $100 million from the August forecast due to adjustments in the projected volume of beef and other meat products.