Fruit and Tree Nuts Market Outlook - June 2016
ERS anticipates a decline in supplies of several major fruit crops in 2015/16 due to lower production. Declining supplies together with robust demand have supported farm and retail prices, which continue higher this year. The following interactive content is based on the Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report.
Production forecast down for several major fruit crops, mixed for tree nuts
Lower production levels limit current fruit supplies for a number of major fruit crops. For most of these crops, supplies are winding down in 2015/16. The U.S. citrus crop is 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 are forecast lower. Cold, wet conditions and disease in Florida are among the main factors behind the decline in citrus production. Apple and pear supplies are also down following smaller harvests in the fall of 2015. With summer upon us and the cherry harvest underway, U.S. sweet cherry production is forecast to be lower than average this year mostly due to the expected smaller crop in Washington—a major producing State. In contrast, U.S. tart cherry production is expected up substantially as the Michigan crop rebounds from last year’s freeze-reduced totals.
With the 2016/17 almond harvest fast approaching, U.S. almond output—which accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. tree nut production—is forecast to return to the 2.0-billion-pound mark, up moderately from the current season (2015/16) and just shy of the record 2.03 billion pounds produced in 2011/12. Current-season production was recently adjusted upward, increasing slightly from 2014/15. In contrast, the pistachio crop is anticipated to be nearly halved in 2015/16 due to below-average yields and an off-cycle (alternate-bearing) year. Both nuts are produced almost totally in California.
Lower orange prices for growers and consumers outweigh higher prices for other fruit
Tight supplies due to lower production have kept grower prices strong for most fruit in 2015/16, except for oranges. Despite these strong prices, the grower price index for all fruit—a measure of the average change in prices received by growers—slipped to 122 (2011=100) in April 2016, down from 127 in April 2015, following record highs during the first 2 months of 2016. Lower prices for oranges are the cause of the lower fruit price index.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for fresh fruit has remained strong in 2016. The CPI was up 3 percent in May 2016, compared with the same month in 2015. Higher retail prices for grapefruit, lemons, Red Delicious apples, strawberries, and Thompson seedless grapes boosted the CPI in May, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.