US Fruit and vegetable imports expected to increase in 2011

During fiscal year 2011 (October 2010 – September 2011), the United States will import 9.5 million tonnes of fresh fruit and 5.7 million tonnes of fresh vegetables, a respective increase of 4% and 6% on the previous fiscal year, according to the latest forecast made by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Overall, the value of US fresh fruit and vegetable imports is expected to reach $13.3 billion in 2011, up 10.8% compared with 2010. Imported fruit will be worth $7.5 billion, 10.24% more than in 2010. Meanwhile, the value of vegetable imports will total $5.8 billion, 12% more than one year earlier.

According to USDA, the top four exporters of fresh vegetables to the US are Mexico, Canada, Peru and China. These countries account for no less than 93% of all imported fresh vegetables. Mexico alone supplies more than two-thirds of this produce. More than a third of US fresh vegetable imports are tomatoes and 83% are shipped north from Mexico. Although only 18% of fresh vegetables consumed are imported, this proportion rises to 44% in the case of tomatoes. The next most important fresh vegetable imports are sweet and chilli peppers, two-thirds of which are supplied by Mexico.

As the graph above shows, the volume and value of imported vegetables has shown an upward trend since 2009. That year, volume and value had fallen slightly

compared with 2008, a year which had shown an increase on 2007. As for the value of fruit imports, this has shown an upward trend since 2007. On the other hand, the volume of imported fruit decreased by 3.51% between 2007 and 2009, only to show positive growth once again in 2010, reaching 9,128 million tonnes.

Fresh fruit and vegetable exports are forecast to reach $6.2 billion in fiscal year 2011, which would represent an increase of 5.82% compared with the previous year and maintain the positive trend observed since 2009. According to this forecast, the value of fruit and vegetable exports will show an increase of 29.54% in the period between 2007 and 2011.