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China's large cotton stockpiles affect world markets

Friday, May 8, 2015

China has been the world’s largest cotton producer and consumer of cotton for decades, and it became the largest importer shortly after its 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Economic growth has transformed its agriculture sector, driving wages higher and spurring greater mechanization in many areas; however, small scale cotton production persists with limited mechanization and high production costs, especially in eastern China. To support its farmers, China introduced a support price for cotton in 2011, and from 2011 to 2013 acquired more than 40 percent of China’s cotton crop in an attempt to maintain domestic cotton prices 50-60 percent above world prices. This has resulted in China’s government owning a large amount of cotton stocks, equivalent to nearly 200 percent of its annual use and half of the world’s consumption. New policies in 2014 included a shift from stock acquisition toward target-price based direct subsidies and a sharp reduction in cotton import quotas. Reduced purchases by China’s government and a transition of cotton stockpiles toward long run historic levels could result in years of lower imports, and a decline in world prices. This chart is based on Cotton Policy in China, CWS-15c-01, March 2015.

The United States is Mexico's largest source of agricultural imports

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Intraregional agricultural trade among the United States, Canada, and Mexico has grown since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994. In 2011-13, agricultural imports from NAFTA partners accounted for 80 percent of Mexico’s total agricultural imports, 63 percent of Canada’s imports, and nearly 40 percent of all U.S. agricultural imports. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. agricultural imports from Mexico consist of beer, vegetables, and fruit. These imports are closely tied to Mexico's historical expertise in producing alcoholic beverages and a wide range of fruit and vegetables, along with favorable climates with growing seasons that largely complement those of the United States. Meat, grains, vegetables, fruit, and related products make up roughly 60 percent of U.S. agricultural imports from Canada, while grains, fruit, vegetables, meat, and related products accounted for about 61 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to Canada. Grains, oilseeds, meat, and related products make up about three-fourths of U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico. This chart is based on data found in NAFTA at 20: North America’s Free-Trade Area and Its Impact on Agriculture, February 2015.

Global stocks of rice are tightening in 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

Global ending stocks of most agricultural commodities, including feedgrains, oilseeds, wheat, and cotton are expected to reach multi-year highs in 2015. Ample supplies are reflected in prices that are well below the record levels of just a few years ago. Rice is an exception, with global ending stocks projected to decline for the second year in a row to reach their lowest level since the 2009/10 marketing year (August/July). At the same time, global use continues to grow, led by consumption growth in China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and several other nations. As a result, the global stocks-to-use ratio is projected at just over 20 percent, the lowest it has been since 2007/08, a time when international concern over high commodity and food prices led several of the world’s leading rice producing and consuming countries to restrict exports and increase government-owned rice reserves. These actions resulted in a rapid rise in global rice prices and reduced trade. Today, even though global stocks are approaching levels that prompted substantial trade restrictions in early 2008, prices are lower and global rice trade remains at near-record levels. This chart is from the April 2015 Rice Outlook.

Wheat prices in India tend to be less volatile than in world markets

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wheat is the primary food staple across much of northern India. Government policy interventions have generally kept domestic prices more stable than world prices (represented by the U.S. wheat price), particularly since the 2008 global price spike. Indian policies provide growers with Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), distribute wheat procured at the MSP to consumers at subsidized prices, subsidize storage of operational and buffer stocks, and regulate imports and exports through periodic trade bans and quotas. Low domestic stocks and rising world prices led India to boost wheat MSPs and limit exports during 2007-2009 but by 2012, the accumulation of surplus stocks led to the return of private sector exports. The increase in domestic wheat prices that occurred between 2007 and 2010 was much smaller than the more than 30 percent rise in domestic rice prices. ERS research using Indian household data indicates that, compared with Indian rice consumers, wheat consumers were more able to maintain consumption of wheat and other foods during the 2007-2010 period. This is an updated version of a chart that can be found in Coping Strategies in Response to Rising Food Prices: Evidence from India.

The United States has a large and growing agricultural trade surplus with China

Friday, March 20, 2015

In recent years, growth in U.S.-China agricultural trade has accelerated. During calendar years 2012-13, U.S. exports of agricultural products to China averaged $25.9 billion per year—a tenfold increase from the late 1990s. Sales to China doubled during 2004-08 and doubled again during 2008-12, while the share of U.S. agricultural exports going to China rose from about 3 percent during the 1990s to 18 percent during 2012-13. China became the largest overseas market for U.S. farm products in 2010. U.S. imports of agricultural products from China rose at a slower pace, reaching $4.4 billion in 2013—agriculture is one of the few sectors where the United States has a trade surplus with China. During 2012-13, the United States accounted for over 24 percent of China’s agricultural imports by value and was its leading supplier of oilseeds, cotton, meat, cereal grains, cattle hides, distillers’ dried grains (mainly used for animal feed), and hay. Soybeans account for more than half of the total value of U.S. agricultural exports to China, averaging $14.1 billion during the 2012-13 calendar years, and are also the largest U.S. export of any type to China, accounting for about 11 percent of the value of total U.S. exports to China. This chart is based on the ERS report, China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports.

Productivity rises in global agriculture

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

By using new technologies, farmers can produce more food using fewer economic resources at lower costs. One measure of technological change is total factor productivity (TFP). Increased TFP means that fewer economic resources (land, labor, capital and materials) are needed to produce a given amount of economic output. However, TFP does not account for the environmental impacts of agricultural production; resources that are free to the farm sector (such as water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity) are not typically included in TFP. As a result, TFP indexes may over- or under-estimate the actual resource savings from technological change. Growth in global agricultural TFP began to accelerate in the 1980s, led by large developing countries like China and Brazil. This growth helped keep food prices down even as global demand surged. This chart uses data available in International Agricultural Productivity on the ERS website, updated October 2014.

Japan increasingly imports agricultural products from Asia and South America

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Japan is one of the largest markets for U.S. agricultural exports, and the United States has long been its largest supplier. However, in recent years the total value of U.S. agricultural exports to Japan has stagnated (in real terms) and the U.S. share of Japan’s agricultural imports has declined. U.S. exports to Japan of some major products—such as soybeans and fruits/preparations—are down since 2000, and others, such as wheat and corn, have remained flat. Japanese imports of U.S. pork are an exception, with strong growth over the last 15 years. The decline in the U.S. share of Japan’s agricultural imports reflects greater competition from competing suppliers, especially in South America and Asia. Japan has expanded its imports of soybeans, soy meal, poultry meat, and grains from South America; palm oil, rubber, and poultry meat from Southeast Asia; soy meal from South Asia; and alcoholic beverages and processed foods from nearby South Korea. Nevertheless, the United States remains Japan’s largest supplier of agricultural products despite trade policies there that maintain a high level of protection for domestically produced products such as wheat and rice and many consumer-ready foods. This chart is from “Japan, Vietnam, and the Asian Model of Agricultural Development and Trade,” in Amber Waves, February 2015.

U.S. fruit and vegetable trade has grown during NAFTA

Friday, February 20, 2015

U.S. fruit and vegetable trade with Canada and Mexico has increased more than 380 percent since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Canada and Mexico now account for over half of all U.S. trade in fruits and vegetables, up from 37 percent in 1994. Over the same period, the share of U.S. fruit and vegetable trade with South America and Central America has remained relatively steady, while the share accounted for by Asia and the EU declined considerably. Mexico’s annual exports of fruit and vegetables to the United States (including juice) have more than tripled during the NAFTA period, approaching $9.4 billion in 2013. These exports have their roots in the development and growth over the past half century of a Mexican fruit and vegetable sector that is oriented toward the U.S. market. Annual U.S. fruit and vegetable exports to Mexico have more than tripled under NAFTA, reaching about $1.4 billion in 2013 and benefitting from the rapid expansion of Mexico’s supermarket sector, including several U.S. supermarket chains that operate there. At the same time, trade liberalization and broader use of greenhouse technology in Canada has allowed U.S. imports of fruit and vegetables from Canada to grow from $213 million in 1988 to $3.1 billion in 2013. Canada has long been a large market for the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry. During the NAFTA period, U.S. fruit and vegetable exports to Canada have grown from less than $2 billion in 1993 to $5.8 billion in 2013. The chart is from the report, NAFTA at 20: North America’s Free Trade Area and its Impact on Agriculture.

China's meat imports surge, driven by rising domestic demand and prices

Thursday, February 19, 2015

As China enters a new phase of its economic development, its demand for higher-valued products like meat and dairy products is growing rapidly. China’s imports of meats during 2013-14 were more than double the volume imported during the early 2000s. Growing demand and higher prices of domestic meat products have driven the growth in China’s meat imports over the past few years. China’s meat imports have shifted from items like chicken feet and animal offal to muscle meat, as living standards rose and China opened its market to more beef and mutton imports. The U.S. is currently the top supplier of China’s poultry and pork imports. U.S. exports of meat, dairy products, and other consumer-oriented products, such as fruits, nuts, and wine to China rose from $234 million in 2000 to $3 billion in 2013, comprising nearly 12 percent of the value of total U.S. agricultural exports to China that year. The growth in China’s meat imports could mean new opportunities for U.S. exporters. This chart is based on the ERS report, China’s Growing Demand for Agricultural Imports.

U.S. Agricultural Trade has expanded under NAFTA

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Agricultural trade among the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) member countries has grown since the agreement was implemented. The total value of intraregional agricultural trade (exports and imports) among all three NAFTA countries reached about $82.0 billion in 2013, compared with $16.7 billion in 1993 (the year before NAFTA’s implementation), and $8.8 billion in 1988 (the year before the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement’s (CUSTA) implementation). When the effects of inflation are taken into account, this expansion in intraregional agricultural trade corresponds to an increase of 233 percent between 1993 and 2013, compared to U.S. agricultural trade worldwide, which grew 126 percent over the same period. The vast majority of trade between these 3 nations involves the United States; U.S. agricultural trade with its 2 NAFTA partners alone reached $78.9 billion in 2013, compared with $16 billion in 1993. The expansion of U.S. trade under NAFTA reflects similar patterns of growth between exports and imports, highlighting the high degree of market integration across these nations. This chart is from the report, NAFTA at 20: North America’s Free Trade Area and its Impact on Agriculture.

Editor's Pick 2014:<br>China's net grain imports surge in 2012 and 2013

Friday, January 2, 2015

China’s demand for imported grains, much of it from the United States, has surged recently, with imports of cereal grains rising to 16 million tons in 2012 and 18 million in 2013. Imports in 2013 included 3 million tons of corn and 4 million tons of DDGS (distillers dried grains with solubles; a co-product of U.S. corn ethanol production used for feed) from the United States. In 2013, the United States supplied 70 percent of China’s wheat imports and, for the first time, China became a major market for U.S. sorghum. China’s demand for feed grains appears to have reached a turning point, as a tightening labor supply and rising feed costs force structural change in China’s livestock sector. Labor scarcity, animal disease pressures, and rising living standards are prompting rural households to abandon “backyard” livestock production and shift more production to specialized farm enterprises that rely more heavily on commercial feed. Because of this, China has switched from being a corn exporter to importing 3-5 million tons annually since 2009. Rising feed demand has also pushed up costs and motivated feed mills and livestock producers to explore new feed ingredients like DDGS and sorghum. Find this chart and additional analysis in "China in the Next Decade: Rising Meat Demand and Growing Imports of Feed" in the April Amber Waves. Originally published Thursday May 22, 2014.

Editor's Pick 2014: China’s net grain imports surge in 2012 and 2013

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

China’s demand for imported grains, much of it from the United States, has surged recently, with imports of cereal grains rising to 16 million tons in 2012 and 18 million in 2013. Imports in 2013 included 3 million tons of corn and 4 million tons of DDGS (distillers dried grains with solubles; a co-product of U.S. corn ethanol production used for feed) from the United States. In 2013, the United States supplied 70 percent of China’s wheat imports and, for the first time, China became a major market for U.S. sorghum. China’s demand for feed grains appears to have reached a turning point, as a tightening labor supply and rising feed costs force structural change in China’s livestock sector. Labor scarcity, animal disease pressures, and rising living standards are prompting rural households to abandon “backyard” livestock production and shift more production to specialized farm enterprises that rely more heavily on commercial feed. Because of this, China has switched from being a corn exporter to importing 3-5 million tons annually since 2009. Rising feed demand has also pushed up costs and motivated feed mills and livestock producers to explore new feed ingredients like DDGS and sorghum. Find this chart and additional analysis in "China in the Next Decade: Rising Meat Demand and Growing Imports of Feed" in the April Amber Waves.

Indian rice prices typically lower and more stable than world prices

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Because rice is an important commodity for Indian producers and consumers, Indian Government policies intervene heavily in its domestic rice market. Particularly since the global price spike in 2008, India’s system of providing Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for growers, distributing rice purchased at the MSP to consumers at subsidized prices, and placing periodic bans or quotas on rice exports, has kept domestic rice prices lower and more stable than world prices (represented by the export price of Thai rice). In 2008, India increased subsidized rice distribution and banned most exports of non-basmati (aromatic, long grain) rice to prevent higher world prices from affecting the domestic market; however, domestic rice prices still increased more than 30 percent between mid-2007 and early 2010. According to ERS research, Indian rice consumers were able to maintain rice consumption, but did so primarily by reducing expenditures on non-staple foods, health care, and durable goods. India’s higher level of exports since 2011, along with increases in MSPs, has contributed to current concerns with inflation in domestic rice prices. Find this chart and more in-depth research in Coping Strategies in Response to Rising Food Prices: Evidence from India.

Calorie availability and importance of food in household spending are inversely related

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrated on October 16, World Food Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the worldwide problems of poverty and hunger. Countries vary in how much their citizens spend on food at home as a share of consumption expenditures. Consumption expenditures include all household spending, but not savings. High-income countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have higher food spending in absolute terms, but their food spending share is low. These two countries spent less than 10 percent of their consumption expenditures on food purchased from supermarkets and other food stores in 2013, while the share approached 50 percent in low-income countries such as Kenya. Per capita calorie availability follows the reverse pattern. In 2011, U.S. per capita calorie availability was 3,639 calories per day, while Kenya’s was 2,189 calories—more than one-third less. Middle-income countries such as Brazil and China surpassed daily calorie availability of 3,000 calories per person with a 16-percent share of consumption expenditures for food at home in Brazil and 26 percent in China. The data for this chart come from ERS’s Food Expenditures data product, updated on October 1, 2014, complemented with data from United Nations, Food and Agriculture Organization, FAOSTAT.

India's cereal stocks cycle up and down, but typically exceed targets

Friday, August 22, 2014

India’s government cereal stocks cycle up and down, but typically exceed government targets set to ensure adequate supplies for domestic distribution programs and provide a strategic reserve. Cereals in government stocks are procured from growers at annually revised minimum support prices (MSPs). Most procured cereals are distributed at subsidized rates through the Targeted Public Distribution System and other programs, with residual supplies accumulating in government-held stocks. The peaks and valleys in government cereal stocks are associated with cycles in price incentives due to changes in MSPs. Relatively low stocks and large increases in MSPs in the late 1990s led to a stock buildup by the early 2000s, and low stocks in the mid-2000s, combined with rising world prices, led to higher MSPs and another stock buildup beginning in the late 2000s. Price policy announced for 2014/15 crops so far indicates relatively small nominal increases in wheat and rice MSPs. For additional information see Indian Wheat and Rice Sector Policies and Implications of Reform.

India close to becoming world's largest cotton producer

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

India’s cotton production has expanded rapidly since the early 2000s, passing the United States to become the world’s 2nd largest producer in 2006/07 (August/July marketing year), and now poised to surpass China—the world’s largest producer. India’s cotton production began to expand with the introduction of genetically-modified Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton; higher yield potential and increased pest resistance boosted profitability and stimulated growth in both area and yields. Since 2000/01, India’s cotton area has increased about 2.8 percent annually and is now more than double the area sown to cotton in China and more than triple U.S. cotton area. However, India’s cotton yields, while improving about 6 percent annually since 2000/01 to an average of 530 kgs/ha during 2009/10-2013/14, remain well below those achieved in China (1,357 kgs/ha) and the United States (916 kgs/ha). With gains in production, India has emerged as the world’s second largest exporter of raw cotton, after the United States, and the second largest consumer of raw cotton, after China. Cotton processed in India is destined for its large domestic market as well as exports of cotton yarn, fabric, and clothing. Find additional analysis of cotton market developments in Cotton and Wool Outlook: July 2014.

Import restrictions begin to curtail growth in U.S. feed exports to China

Monday, June 23, 2014

With record shipments so far in 2013/14 (September/August marketing year), China has emerged as a major buyer of U.S. feed grains, but this trade is now being disrupted by China’s rejection of U.S. shipments containing unapproved genetically modified (GM) material. U.S. corn exports to China have reached 4.0 million tons so far in 2013/14 and China has also, for the first time, initiated large-scale imports of U.S. sorghum, with imports of 2.3 million tons in the first 7 months of 2013/14. China has become the largest U.S. export market for distillers dry grains with solubles (DDGS, a byproduct from production of corn-based ethanol) with sales to China of 2.8 million tons in 2012/13 and 4.0 million tons so far in 2013/14. Feed sales to China are being driven by the continued expansion of meat and feed consumption, high Chinese corn prices, and demand by animal product producers for cost-efficient feed ingredients. Until recently, China’s trade policies have helped channel demand toward DDGS and sorghum, which face relatively low tariffs and—unlike corn—are not subject to import quotas. But, so far in 2013/14, China has rejected about 1.1 million tons of U.S. corn and DDGS containing unapproved GM material, specifically the MIR 162 strain, and other shipments have been cancelled or diverted to other destinations. More recently, China has halted issuance of licenses for imports of any U.S. DDGS. These developments place prospects for U.S feed grain exports to China in 2013/14 and beyond in question. For further analysis, see China’s Market for Distillers Dried Grains and the Key Influences on Its Longer Run Potential.

Asia and Western Hemisphere propel growth in U.S. agricultural exports

Friday, June 13, 2014

U.S. agricultural exports are forecast at a record $149.5 billion in fiscal 2014 (year ending September 30), $8.6 billion above 2013, with exports to Asian and Western Hemisphere countries accounting for most of the growth. China is forecast to remain the largest U.S. market, with U.S. sales expected to rise from $23.5 billion in fiscal 2013 to $28 billion in fiscal 2014. Other Asian markets forecast to show significant growth include Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand. In the Western Hemisphere, exports to Canada (the second largest U.S. market) are expected to rise marginally to $21.6 billion, while exports to Mexico (the third largest) are forecast to rise to $18.6 billion. U.S. export growth is also forecast for South America, including Brazil, Colombia, and Peru. Higher income growth and a lower U.S. exchange rate are expected to support continued growth in U.S. exports, especially within the Western Hemisphere. Although slower income growth is anticipated for China in 2014, demand for agricultural goods is expected to remain robust. This chart is based on data found in the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.

Global rice trade heading for another record in 2015

Friday, June 6, 2014

Global rice trade is forecast at a record 41.3 million tons in 2015, continuing the pattern of higher levels of global rice trade established since 2012. Recent growth in rice trade is largely based on record imports by Sub-Saharan Africa and China, moderating world rice prices, and abundant exportable supplies in Asia and the Western Hemisphere. Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to import a record 12.75 million tons of rice in 2015, with Nigeria (3.5 million tons) the largest regional—and second largest global—rice importer. China is forecast to import a record 3.7 million tons of rice in 2015, up 0.5 million tons from 2014, making it the largest global importer. Other major buyers expected to boost rice imports in 2015 include Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and the European Union. Thailand is projected to be the largest rice exporter in 2015, shipping 10 million tons of rice, followed by India (9 million), Vietnam (6.7 million), Pakistan (3.9 million), and the United States (3.25 million). Although U.S. season average farm prices for long grain rice are forecast to be down about 10 percent in 2014/15, the recent pattern has been for U.S. rice to sell at larger premiums than Thai and Vietnamese rice. Find this chart in the Rice Chart Gallery, with additional analysis in Rice Outlook: May 2014.

China’s net grain imports surge in 2012 and 2013

Thursday, May 22, 2014

China’s demand for imported grains, much of it from the United States, has surged recently, with imports of cereal grains rising to 16 million tons in 2012 and 18 million in 2013. Imports in 2013 included 3 million tons of corn and 4 million tons of DDGS (distillers dried grains with solubles; a co-product of U.S. corn ethanol production used for feed) from the United States. In 2013, the United States supplied 70 percent of China’s wheat imports and, for the first time, China became a major market for U.S. sorghum. China’s demand for feed grains appears to have reached a turning point, as a tightening labor supply and rising feed costs force structural change in China’s livestock sector. Labor scarcity, animal disease pressures, and rising living standards are prompting rural households to abandon “backyard” livestock production and shift more production to specialized farm enterprises that rely more heavily on commercial feed. Because of this, China has switched from being a corn exporter to importing 3-5 million tons annually since 2009. Rising feed demand has also pushed up costs and motivated feed mills and livestock producers to explore new feed ingredients like DDGS and sorghum. Find this chart and additional analysis in "China in the Next Decade: Rising Meat Demand and Growing Imports of Feed" in the April Amber Waves.