ERS Charts of Note
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Tuesday, December 5, 2023
According to weather data from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), temperatures in the Corn Belt, a region spanning across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin, have trended higher in recent years and are projected to continue to rise through the end of this century. Two measures can be used to capture how rising temperatures affect crops’ growth—growing degree days and extreme degree days. Growing degree days describe the beneficial temperatures in a day that allow a plant to grow and mature. With rising temperatures, the growing degree days for corn and soybeans increase. A crop’s exposure to added growing degree days is not necessarily harmful; after all, crops need heat and precipitation to grow. However, extreme degree days, which refer to temperatures throughout the day in excess of 30 °C (86 °F), cause heat stress that is harmful for a plant. Each decade since 1992, both growing degree days and extreme degree days have steadily increased with rising temperatures in the Corn Belt, where about 80 percent of all U.S. corn and soybeans are grown. In the decade leading to 2032, both measures are projected to continue to increase. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Estimating Market Implications From Corn and Soybean Yields Under Climate Change in the United States, published in October 2023.
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
U.S. cranberries are harvested in autumn, just in time for the holiday season. The 2023 U.S. cranberry crop is forecast to be 7.62 million barrels, down 5.4 percent from the previous year, but equal to the 2020–22 average. The top-producing State, Wisconsin, typically harvests around 60 percent of the annual U.S. cranberry crop. In 2023, Wisconsin cranberry production is forecast to be 4.6 million barrels, down 5 percent from 2022. In the most recent growing season, Wisconsin experienced challenging weather, from record snowfall in April to statewide drought in July. Similarly, Massachusetts—the second-largest producing State—experienced weather-related challenges including a cold, frosty spring and excessive precipitation during the summer bloom. Consequently, production for Massachusetts, which typically accounts for around one quarter of the U.S. cranberry crop, is forecast to decline 11.5 percent from last year to 2 million barrels. Similarly, New Jersey’s 2023 cranberry forecast is expected to be about 550,000 barrels, a slight 2-percent decrease from the 2020–22 average on the basis of atypically hot summer temperatures in the State. Unlike the top three States, which are set to experience production declines in 2023, the fourth-largest cranberry producing State, Oregon, is forecast to see production rise by 17.5 percent from 2022 to 470,000 barrels. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
In 2022, tree nut prices fell to their lowest levels in at least two decades. Prices after adjusting for inflation, called real prices, were $1.10 per pound for almonds, $0.51 for hazelnuts, and $0.25 for walnuts. The last time real almond and hazelnut prices were this low was at the turn of the 21st century. Walnut (real) prices are at an all-time low, according to data from the USDA, Economic Research Service. Prior to 2020, the lowest real walnut price recorded was $0.58 per pound in 1999. In 2022, walnut prices were less than half of the previous record low and 14 percent of the high observed in 2013 ($1.82 per pound). Low prices have affected walnut producers’ production decisions. In September 2023, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast that 2023 would be the first year since 1999 that walnut-bearing acreage decreased. Acreage in California, the country’s leading walnut producer, was estimated to have dropped from 400,000 acres in 2022 to 385,000 acres in 2023 and was revised further downward to 375,000 acres in October 2023. Producers have not reduced bearing acreage for almonds or hazelnuts, but prices have decreased since 2014. The decision to reduce acreage stems not only from grower prices but also from a series of conditions growers face that include weather, prices of inputs, and competition from other exporting countries. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023.
Thursday, October 26, 2023
Pumpkins were one of the earliest cultivated crops in the Americas and have become one of the most distinctive symbols of fall. With a variety of uses, from pies and spiced coffee drinks to festive jack-o’-lanterns, pumpkins are grown commercially in every U.S. State. Production has trended up over the past two decades. In the early 2000s, about 4 pounds of the gourd were available per person, increasing to about 6 pounds per person in the 2020s. In the top 6 pumpkin-growing States, farms produced about 1.2 billion pounds in 2022. Illinois alone harvested 630 million pounds. The next 5 largest pumpkin-producing States by weight were Indiana with 160 million pounds, California with 120 million pounds, Michigan and Pennsylvania with 90 million pounds each, and Virginia with 50 million pounds. Most pumpkins are grown for decorative purposes, with a smaller amount processed into puree to be used in food products such as pies, muffins, or breads. However, in Illinois—the largest producer by both acres and weight—about 80 percent of the State’s harvested pumpkin acres are used for processing. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Trending Topics Pumpkins: Background & Statistics page.
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Orange juice, once a staple beverage in many U.S. households, has experienced a steady decline in consumption over the last two decades. While waning consumer demand has played a role, decreased domestic orange production has also negatively impacted per capita availability, a proxy measure for consumption. Orange juice imports from Brazil and Mexico have tempered some of this decline, however, availability of orange juice has fallen from about 5 gallons a person in the 2000/01 marketing year to a forecast of 2 gallons per person in 2022/23. Most oranges grown for the processing/juice market in the United States are harvested in Florida. In recent years, Florida’s citrus crop has suffered from disease and extreme weather events, resulting in smaller orange harvests. Reduced supply has contributed to generally higher orange juice prices. However, adjusted for inflation, prices for frozen concentrated orange juice and not from concentrate (the two main categories) increased at comparatively modest rates between 2000/01 and 2021/22. The price of frozen concentrated orange juice rose by 5 percent over 20 years, while orange juice not from concentrate rose by 12 percent over the same period. The modest increase in the real price highlights the impact of declining demand, somewhat muting the price effect associated with lower supply. This chart is based on the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released September 2023, and data from the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook and Price Spreads from Farm to Consumer.
Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Global rice trade is projected to decline in 2023 and 2024 after India, the world’s largest rice exporter, implemented additional export restrictions on rice in July and August 2023. India accounted for more than 40 percent of global exports in 2022, supplying more rice than each of the next four largest suppliers—Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and the United States. In summer 2023, India placed a ban on export sales of regular-milled white rice while imposing tariffs and additional restrictions on other types of exported rice. Global prices for rice then rose by 12 to 14 percent by the end of July. Prices continued to surge in August, reaching their highest since 2008, dropping slightly by mid-September as panic buying slowed. The impact is felt by many of the world’s food-insecure countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, India’s largest export market. This region is expected to import less rice in 2023 and 2024 even as Thailand, Vietnam, and Pakistan pick up additional sales, despite tight supplies in Thailand and Vietnam. This chart is drawn from the October 2023 Rice Outlook, published by USDA, Economic Research Service. Also see the August 2023 and September 2023 Rice Outlook.
Thursday, October 5, 2023
The United States is the global leader in cotton exports by value, holding a 33-percent share ($5.7 billion) of the global export market in 2021. U.S. cotton exports expanded to $8.9 billion in 2022 and, while U.S. cotton exports in 2023 are expected to be lower than 2022 levels, USDA’s 10-year projections for U.S. exports indicate growth in the long term. In 2021, the most recent year for which complete global data are available, U.S. exports of cotton totaled nearly 3 million metric tons, 47 percent more volume than the next highest exporter, Brazil. Other major competitors in the global cotton market include Australia, India, and the European Union, with 2021 market shares (in terms of value) ranging from 5 to 15 percent each, as well as several exporters from Africa, including Benin, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire. In addition to maintaining the largest share of the aggregate global market, the United States is a key supplier to several top importer markets. For example, in 2021, U.S. cotton accounted, by value, for 39 percent of cotton imports to China, the top cotton importer in the world. Other top destinations for U.S. cotton exports include Vietnam, Turkey, Pakistan, and Mexico. These countries combined with China, accounted for more than 70 percent of U.S. cotton exports in 2021. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, U.S. Export Competitiveness in Select Crop Markets, March 2023.
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Fresh strawberry prices tend to exhibit strong seasonal trends in part because of their relatively short shelf life. Even being refrigerated immediately after harvest, fresh-picked strawberries last about 1 to 2 weeks, reducing the ability to store the crop and maintain a consistent supply. In the United States, grower prices for fresh organic strawberries move in tandem with conventional strawberry prices throughout the year while also typically running 40 to 50 percent higher than conventional prices—this difference is known as a “price premium.” In late fall and throughout winter, supply wanes even though demand remains robust. During this period, grower (or farm-gate) price premiums for organic strawberries rise above typical levels. From 2018–22, the highest average price premium was in January, when organic strawberry prices were 74 to 88 percent higher than conventional strawberries. Price premiums in July averaged 18 to 24 percent. Organic strawberry production has increased faster than conventional production. Since 2008, domestic organic strawberry acreage has tripled in California, which provides about 75 percent of U.S. organic strawberry production. This chart updates one that appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report The Changing Landscape of U.S. Strawberry and Blueberry Markets: Production, Trade, and Challenges from 2000 to 2020, published in September 2023.
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Although domestic chili pepper production has been falling for more than a decade, the rate of reduction has accelerated in recent years. In 2014, U.S. producers in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas grew more than 480 million pounds of chili peppers. By 2022, production had dropped to about 175 million pounds. Generally, this 60-percent decrease can be attributed to reduced acreage and yields. To offset decreasing domestic production and to meet rising demand, many U.S. companies and consumers have purchased imported peppers, most of which are grown in Mexico. In 2014, about 2 out of every 10 chili peppers consumed domestically were produced domestically. By 2022, this share had fallen to less than 1 out of every 10. From 2014 to 2022, the number of peppers exported remained steady, ranging from 66 million pounds to 106 million. However, the share of U.S. peppers exported more than tripled, increasing from 14 percent in 2014 to 46 percent in 2022. Although 8 percent more chili peppers were available in 2022 than in 2014, fewer were grown by U.S. producers. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook.
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
After reaching historic highs in May 2022, U.S. and global wheat prices have since cooled as supply concerns for many key wheat exporters have abated. Wheat export prices for the United States, Russia, and France in July 2023 are all well below the peaks observed in May 2022 as an effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Ample wheat supplies expected in the 2023/24 marketing year (July–June) in the European Union, of which France is a member, and Russia are contributing to low prices for those exporters. Markets recently reacted to the July 17 expiration of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had sustained Ukraine’s exports through the Black Sea for nearly a year. Russia’s subsequent attacks on Ukraine’s port infrastructure were further reflected in global wheat prices. However, Ukraine is expected to continue shipping some commodities via alternative routes, so price changes were relatively minimal compared with more extreme swings at the start of the conflict. Prices for other suppliers, such as France, were up slightly from May 2023 but 27 percent lower than in July 2022. U.S. hard red winter wheat export prices decreased 10 percent in July 2023 from July 2022 and were 34 percent lower from May 2022. Even so, they are higher compared with other key exporters, partly driven by ongoing drought in major U.S. growing regions. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service Wheat Outlook, August 2023.
Tuesday, August 29, 2023
The majority of potatoes in the United States are now sold in processed forms such as frozen, chipped, dehydrated, or canned. With the introduction of french fries as a key side dish in quick-service restaurants, the share of potatoes that go into frozen products has risen in each decade since 1979. As a result, almost half of all potatoes going into food in the United States are now used to create frozen products—most of which are french fries. Meanwhile, the share of potatoes used as fresh table potatoes has declined decade by decade. Even the favorable trend in french fries has seen some bumps along the way. After peaking in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the long-run upward trend in frozen potato availability slowed as many consumers embraced low-carb diets or sought alternative food choices and cuisines. However, by the mid-2010s, frozen potato availability once again turned upward, with per capita availability during the pandemic-influenced 2019–21 period up 8 percent from a decade earlier (2009–11). According to industry data and USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) research in the early 2000s, about 90 percent of frozen french fries move through various food service venues. Quick-service restaurants alone account for about two-thirds of french fry usage. This chart is drawn from the ERS data product Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Tables.
Tuesday, August 22, 2023
While Georgia is on many consumers’ minds when it comes to fresh, juicy peaches, California is by far the largest peach-producing State in the United States. In 2022, California’s harvest yielded 475,000 tons of fruit, with South Carolina a distant second at 67,400 tons, and Georgia in third place with production at 24,800 tons. California has been the long-time leading producer both for freestone peaches for the fresh market and clingstone peaches for processing. However, the State’s peach production has been trending lower for almost two decades, contributing to an overall drop in U.S. peach production. Total production in the United States in 2022 was estimated at 625,680 tons, 8 percent smaller than the crop in 2019. In 2022, California’s peach harvest was about 5 percent smaller than in 2019 and nearly 27 percent lower than 10 years earlier. Latest reports from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast 2023 peach production to be 13 percent lower than in 2022. Georgia and South Carolina peaches were beset with challenging weather conditions that included unseasonably warm weather in late winter followed by late spring cold snaps. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook, published in September 2022, and has been updated with recent data.
Wednesday, August 9, 2023
The California-grown almonds in your trail mix or almond milk were likely made possible through the pollination services provided by honey bees. In the United States, all commercially grown almonds—a crop worth more than $5 billion in 2021—are grown in California. Almond blossoms largely require insects for pollination, and honey bees are widely used to provide this yield-supporting service. While some almond growers maintain their own honey bee colonies, many opt to secure pollination services by renting hives from beekeepers. Beekeepers often transport their commercial honey bee colonies more than 1,000 miles as part of an annual journey that typically begins in the Northern Great Plains—which includes North and South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota—and proceeds to California and beyond. Driven by the timing of the almond bloom, between July 1, 2017, and January 1, 2018, an estimated 384,600 bee colonies were transported into California from the Northern Great Plains. Colonies also traveled from nearby areas of the West and Pacific Northwest, while still other colonies came from as far away as the Northeast and Southeast. Some beekeepers reported moving honey bee colonies more than 2,000 miles to pollinate almonds. After pollinating almonds and other crops in the region, many beekeepers later return to the Great Northern Plains to support colony recuperation and honey production. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Honey Bees on the Move: From Pollination to Honey Production and Back, June 2021.
Thursday, August 3, 2023
If you are reaching for a slice of melon to cool off from the summer heat, chances are watermelon is your first choice. Since 2000, watermelon has gained a larger share of U.S. melon availability (calculated by adding production and import volumes and then subtracting exports). In 2022, watermelon accounted for more than half of U.S. melon availability, double the share of every other melon variety combined. An estimated 21.1 pounds of melons were available in 2022 for each U.S. consumer to eat, with watermelon accounting for 14.1 pounds, cantaloupe for 5.3 pounds, honeydew for 1.6 pounds, and all other melons making up the remaining slice. Increases in watermelon availability, by both volume and share, correspond with overall growth in melon imports, which first served to bridge supply gaps during nongrowing seasons in the United States. Most of the melons consumed in the United States are grown domestically, but imports are capturing a growing share of the fresh melon market. Since the 1980s, imports have increased from an average share of less than 10 percent to almost 40 percent over the last 5 years. U.S. imports of watermelons now come mostly from Mexico, with increasing volumes from Guatemala and Honduras. Cantaloupe and honeydew imports ship mostly from Guatemala and Honduras, with lower volumes from Mexico. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, published in March 2023.
Monday, July 31, 2023
Imports play a vital and increasingly important role in ensuring that fresh fruit and vegetables are available year-round in the United States. Since the 2008 completion of the transition to tariff- and quota-free trade among Mexico, Canada, and the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable imports have increased with few interruptions. Between 2007 and 2021, the percent of U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable availability supplied by imports grew from 50 to 60 percent for fresh fruit and from 20 to 38 percent for fresh vegetables (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms). The import share increased by more than 20 percentage points during this period for 10 crops: asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, raspberries, snap beans, and tomatoes. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), implemented on July 1, 2020, continues NAFTA’s market access provisions for fruit and vegetables. In 2022, Mexico and Canada supplied 51 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of U.S. fresh fruit imports, and 69 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of U.S. fresh vegetable imports in terms of value. This chart is drawn using data from the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) data products Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook Data and Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Data. Also refer to the ERS report, Changes in U.S. Agricultural Imports from Latin America and the Caribbean, published in July 2023, and ERS’s Amber Waves feature, U.S. Fresh Vegetable Imports From Mexico and Canada Continue To Surge, published in November 2021.
Thursday, July 6, 2023
In 2021, U.S. residents consumed 20.3 pounds of frozen dairy products per capita, nearly 6 pounds less than in 2000. Per capita consumption of frozen dairy products, which includes ice creams and frozen yogurt among other frozen dairy products, has been declining since the 1990s, dipping to its lowest point in 2021. Consumption of regular ice cream in 2021 was estimated at 12.0 pounds per person, a drop of about 4 pounds from 2000. At 6.4 pounds, per capita consumption of low-fat and nonfat ice cream was roughly the same in 2021 as in 2000. Consumption of other dairy products, including frozen yogurt, sherbet, and miscellaneous frozen dairy products, decreased from 3.4 pounds per person in 2000 to 1.9 pounds in 2021. This downward trend in frozen dairy product consumption is in line with a decline in consumption of caloric sweeteners from 150.9 pounds per capita in 2000 to 127.4 pounds in 2021, reflecting shifting preference among consumers. This chart is drawn from Dairy Data, published by USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS), which provide annual data for per capita consumption of dairy products from 1975 to 2021. Information concerning caloric sweeteners is from ERS’ Sugar and Sweeteners Yearbook Tables. The data for this chart do not account for spoilage, waste, and other losses. For data that take these losses into account, see ERS’ Loss-Adjusted Food Availability.
Tuesday, June 20, 2023
Honeybee health and honey production are impacted by extreme weather events. In recent years, droughts in the western and northern Great Plains regions have decreased floral resources on which commercial honeybees typically forage. Elsewhere, hurricanes and heavy rains in some southern States damaged and destroyed forage, in some cases even drowning hives. Eligible U.S. honeybee producers who incur colony, hive, and feed losses as a direct result of a qualified adverse weather or loss condition have access to payments made through the USDA’s Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP). Payments under ELAP for honeybee losses totaled $30 million in 2018 and rose to $57 million in 2019. Between 2020 and 2022, payments averaged $45 million annually. Over the last 5 years, 95 percent of the assistance was for colony losses, followed by hive losses (3 percent), and feed losses (1 percent). A colony usually refers to the family unit of the bees, including a queen, workers, and drones, whereas a hive refers to the physical structure in which the colony lives. Payments spiked in 2019 coinciding with a 2-year period characterized by an increased number of colony losses caused by extreme weather events, pests, and diseases. After losses related to these factors spiked at 300,000 colonies in 2022, colony losses have started to decline but remain elevated compared with 5 years before. At the same time, losses related to colony collapse disorder—the sudden die-off of honeybee colonies—have been relatively stable since 2015, averaging about 72,000 colonies per year, but persist as a challenge to U.S. honeybee producers. This chart is drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Sugar and Sweeteners Outlook published in June 2023.
Thursday, June 15, 2023
Between 2002 and 2022, soybeans were the second-most planted crop in the United States, behind corn. The exception was in 2018 when acreage planted to soybeans surpassed corn. While the total acres planted to soybeans generally have been less than to corn, the rate of growth in soybean sowings has exceeded corn since the early 2000s. Soybean planted acreage grew by 18 percent, from 74 million in 2002 to 87 million in 2022, while corn planted acreage increased by 12 percent in the same period. In contrast to this growth, wheat planted acres declined 22 percent over the same 20-year period—with some wheat acres shifting into soybeans. While net gains in soybean acres planted have been sizable, growth over the past two decades has not been steady. From 2002 to 2006, gains were modest, followed by a sharp decline in 2007 when biofuel policy increased the demand and price for corn. Increased profitability for corn shifted many acres out of soybeans and into corn production. After 2007, and for the next several years, generally improving profit margins reinvigorated soybean plantings, which continued their upward trajectory, peaking in 2017 at 90 million acres. Acreage fell slightly in 2018 and more sharply in 2019 to 76 million acres—the lowest since 2011—after China’s trade restrictions reduced global demand for U.S. soybeans, which caused soybean prices to fall. Heavy spring rains in 2019 contributed further to the reduction in soybean plantings, but planted acreage partially recovered in the following years. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, Characteristics and Trends of U.S. Soybean Production Practices, Costs, and Returns Since 2002, published in June 2023.
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Lettuce—the main ingredient in many salads and a popular sandwich topper—is the most widely consumed leafy green in the United States. In 2022, lettuce accounted for nearly one-fifth of the $21.8 billion that U.S. growers received in cash receipts from sales of vegetables and melons. Romaine lettuce sales totaled $1.54 billion, iceberg lettuce sales were $1.33 billion, and leaf lettuce sales trailed at $1.25 billion. An estimated 85 percent of the lettuce available for consumption in the United States was produced domestically in 2022. While production of lettuce occurs year-round, areas of production shift with the growing seasons. From mid-November through early April, most lettuce sold in the United States is sourced from the irrigated desert valleys of Southern California’s Imperial County and the Yuma area of Arizona. Shipments of lettuce from Florida help fill in regional market gaps during winter and spring months. From late April through mid-November, production shifts to Central California. From spring through fall, local production in most other States serves farmers markets, regional/local retail and restaurant demand, and community-supported agriculture. This chart is drawn from an article titled, “Lettuce Trends: Conventional, Organic Growth, and Production,” from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Vegetables and Pulses Outlook, April 2023.
Thursday, May 11, 2023
Consumers are eating fewer raisins, based on U.S. per capita availability data. In the past 10 years, acreage planted to raisin-type grapes declined more than 33 percent in California, which produces almost all U.S. raisins. Average per capita availability (a proxy for consumption) of dried raisins fell 15 percent in that time, according to USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates. This trajectory continues the gradual decline observed since availability peaked at more than 2 pounds per person in the late 1980s to a current low of 1.1 pounds. Some of the reasons behind the decline may include greater year-round availability of fresh fruit and competition from other dried fruit, such as cranberries, cherries, and blueberries. Pressure faced by U.S. raisin growers is not limited to declining per capita availability, however. Higher labor costs and lower priced exports from Turkey have also challenged the U.S. raisin industry in recent years. Along with an overall decrease in acreage and production, the United States has reduced both total export volume and the share of domestic production going to exports. This chart is drawn from ERS’ Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, March 2023.