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Most U.S. watermelon is produced in the South, with Florida leading output in 2021

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

When the summer heat is on, many people crave a slice of cool, refreshing watermelon. Those same high temperatures are ideal for producing watermelons, which require consistently warm temperatures during the growing season. Commercially, U.S. watermelons are mostly produced in southern States with harvest occurring during the late spring and summer months. Florida, Georgia, California, and Texas accounted for three-fourths of the 3.4 billion pounds of watermelon produced domestically in 2021. Historically, Florida is the top watermelon-producing State and in 2021, this State alone accounted for 30 percent (1.016 billion pounds) of U.S. production. When both Georgia and Texas experienced production loss in 2021 because of cool spring weather, California moved up to outrank Texas as the third-highest watermelon-producing State in 2021. Because of lower production, the United States imported a record 1.787 billion pounds of watermelon in 2021, which accounted for 37 percent of available domestic supply. This chart was drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service’s March 2022 Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook.

Imports play dominant role as U.S. demand for avocados climbs

Monday, May 2, 2022

U.S. consumers’ fondness for avocados has taken off since the early 2000s. From 2000 to 2021, the quantity of avocados available per person, a proxy for consumption, tripled to more than 8 pounds per person. The United States has produced an average of about 400 million pounds of avocados each year since 2000, but production has slowly declined since 2011 with a decline in U.S. avocado acreage. Imports have risen to support year-round demand. Imported avocados now account for 90 percent of the domestic supply compared with 40 percent in the early 2000s. In the 2020/21 marketing year, U.S. avocado imports reached a record high of 2.675 billion pounds. Mexico is the leading global producer of avocados, and the United States is the main destination for Mexico’s avocado exports. The United States imported an annual average of 2.25 billion pounds from Mexico in 2019–21 compared with 55 million pounds in 2001–03. From 2019–21, 88 percent of all shipments came from Mexico, while 7 percent came from Peru, 3 percent from the Dominican Republic, and 1 percent from Chile. This chart appears in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, March 2022.

Cranberry production in top-producing States to increase modestly in 2021

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The U.S. harvest season for cranberries runs from around mid-September until the end of October, just in time for Thanksgiving. Total U.S. production of cranberries in 2021 is forecast for 7.9 million barrels, up less than 1 percent from last year. In three of the four top cranberry-producing States—Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Oregon—output is expected to increase slightly from last year. Wisconsin, the largest producer of cranberries in the United States, grew roughly 59 percent of the crop in 2020. Production in this State is expected to increase 1 percent from 2020 to 4.7 million barrels in 2021. In Massachusetts and Oregon, production volumes are forecast at 2.1 and 0.6 million barrels, respectively, representing slight net increases. In contrast, 2021 output is forecast to decrease in New Jersey; however, this decline is more than offset by gains in other States. Production of cranberries has gradually increased since 1990 as consumption has expanded from seasonal to year-round. This increase is driven in part by the rise in cranberries used in processing (mainly for juice and juice blends). This chart is drawn from Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook, September 2021.

Apples and oranges remain the top U.S. fruit choices

Monday, August 30, 2021

Apples held the top spot for total fruit available for consumption in 2019 at more than 25 pounds per person after adjusting for losses. The USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) loss-adjusted food availability data are derived from food availability data by adjusting for food spoilage, plate waste, and other losses to more closely approximate actual consumption. According to recently released estimates, people in the United States consumed an average of 12.6 pounds (equivalent to 1.4 gallons) of apple juice, roughly 10 pounds of fresh apples, and a total of 3.3 pounds of canned, dried, and frozen apples in 2019. Among the top seven consumed fruits in 2019, apples were the only fruit available in all five forms: fresh, canned, frozen, dried, and juice. Pineapples were the only other canned option among these seven fruits, while strawberries were the only other frozen fruit available. Bananas (13.4 pounds per person) topped the list of most popular fresh fruits, while orange juice (16.7 pounds or 1.9 gallons) remained America’s favorite fruit juice. The data for this chart come from the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series in the ERS Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, updated July 21, 2021.

U.S. fresh strawberry production expands with newer varieties

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

To keep up with growing consumer demand for strawberries, U.S. fresh strawberry production has increased over the last two decades (from 2000-19). In the United States, fresh strawberries are primarily grown in California (roughly 90 percent annually) and Florida (about 8 percent), followed by New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. With the development of newer varieties, strawberry season has expanded in both California and Florida. California produces strawberries year-round with peak harvest spanning from early spring until fall. California production has now increased from July to October with higher yielding varieties on decreased acreage, and shipments were 220 percent higher in 2019 than in 2000. Florida’s strawberry season typically begins in December and goes through March, but with the use of an early yielding variety, the Florida strawberry season now begins in November with relatively small volumes. Florida’s strawberry shipments more than doubled between 2000 and 2019. From all locations, strawberry supplies in the United States typically begin to rise in the spring, which is the perfect season to pick strawberries since National Pick Strawberries Day is on May 20. This information is from the special article Evolving Trends in the U.S. Fresh Strawberry Market in the Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report: March 2021.

Pi Day: Production value of seven popular pie ingredients grown in the United States approaches $6 billion

Friday, March 12, 2021

March 14 is known to many as Pi Day. When written as 3.14, the date resembles the mathematical constant, π, and for that reason, many celebrate the day’s circular reference by enjoying their favorite pie. In 2019, the United States grew $5.9 billion worth of seven of the fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts that tend to be popular for use as the main ingredient in pie making. The value of production of these seven commodities in 2019, as measured by U.S. cash receipts, was the highest for apples, which are produced abundantly in the United States both in terms of volume and production value. The U.S. apple crop reached a value of $2.75 billion in 2019, whereas production of blueberries reached $935 million. Cash receipts for other tasty fruit pie ingredients, cherries and peaches, were valued at $696 million and $519 million, respectively. As tree nuts, pecans are possibly one of America’s favorite non-fruit pie ingredients, and were valued at $471 million in terms of U.S. cash receipts. The pear crop of 2019 was valued at $315 million, while production of pumpkins, the ever-popular fall icon and mainstay of the holiday table, was valued at $180 million. This chart is drawn from Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts and Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Tables.

U.S. apple production is forecast to decline 3 percent in 2020

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The holidays may look a little different this year, but apple pie is likely still on the table. The U.S. apple crop in the 2019/20 season (August to July) was the sixth largest on record, with total production reaching 11 billion pounds. Total utilized production, which includes production that is actually sold, was 10.6 billion pounds. In June 2020, apples in storage hit a record high of 47.9 million bushels, up 24 percent from the same time last year. The increase in domestic supplies received a further boost by a decrease in U.S. exports stemming from high tariffs from India and China. This overall increase in supplies led to lower grower prices in 2019/20. For the 2020/21 season, total production is projected 3 percent lower than the prior season (total utilized production is estimated at 10.3 billion pounds), with production in Washington, the Nation’s leading apple producer, similarly down 3 percent. The quantity of apples harvested may be even lower because of labor supply uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. Apples for the processed market are also expected to decrease, notably in Pennsylvania (17 percent) and Virginia (16 percent). Bagged apples, however, are currently in demand and are likely to stay in demand for apple pie season. This chart is based on the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook, released September 2020.

Blueberry imports from Latin America increase to meet year-round demand

Monday, September 21, 2020

U.S. demand for fresh blueberries reached an all-time high in 2019, and to meet this increased demand, both domestic and global production of fresh blueberries have trended upward. U.S production for the fresh market climbed 284 percent since 2000 to almost 372 million pounds in 2019. Blueberries have different production seasons across different regions throughout the year. To support year-round demand of consumers, imports have grown and now not only supply blueberries in the off-season months of domestic production, but increasingly in the in-season months as well. U.S. fresh blueberry imports rose to a record 472 million pounds in 2019, up 1,177 percent since 2000. Latin America, led by Peru, emerged as the major supplier of U.S. blueberry imports. Fresh blueberry imports from Peru surpassed those from Chile and accounted for 30 percent of the imports in 2019. Imports from Chile accounted for almost 30 percent of fresh blueberry imports in 2019, while imports from Mexico accounted for 19 percent. Other top suppliers, Canada and Argentina, exported smaller quantities to the United States. Countries exporting to the United States during U.S. production’s off-season have expanded their seasons to capture market share and higher prices, increasing competition for some U.S. producers. This chart and detail appear in the Commodity Feature in the Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook, March 2020.

Limes, lemons, and tangerines drove the 2007-18 growth in fresh citrus availability in the United States

Friday, September 4, 2020

In 2018, the total supply of fresh citrus fruits available for Americans to eat—after adjusting for spoilage, plate waste, and other losses in food stores, restaurants, and households—was 8.0 pounds per person. From 1970 to 2018, loss-adjusted per person availability of oranges and grapefruit fell by 51 and 84 percent, respectively, while availability of other citrus fruits grew—lemons, for example, doubled; limes increased by 22 times. Year-to-year changes in availability of citrus fruits reflect production swings due to weather events, citrus diseases, changes in import or export volumes, and other factors. Longer term trends, however, are usually driven by changes in consumer demand. For example, skipping breakfast—or making it a “grab and go” meal—is likely to reduce demand for fresh oranges and grapefruit. Grapefruit takes more effort to eat, especially when compared with easy-to-peel citrus fruits such as tangerines that are sweet in taste and smaller in size. The popularity of Hispanic, Asian, and other cuisines that use lemons and limes could be contributing to higher demand for these fruits. This chart appears in ERS’s Amber Waves article, “Citrus Fruits Accounted for 14 Percent of Fresh Fruits Available for Americans to Eat in 2018,” August 2020.

U.S. watermelon imports rise to meet growing demand

Monday, July 6, 2020

Watermelons have long been America’s favorite melon. As U.S. consumption has steadily increased over time, imports have also increased to fulfill year-round consumer demand. On average 5.1 billion pounds were consumed in 2019, a 4-percent increase from 2010, but a 5-percent decline from 2016 when consumption reached its highest level in over a decade. Watermelon produced domestically remains the main source of consumption in the United States, with production reaching 3.9 billion pounds in 2016, yet decreasing on average since 2010. Nearly 80 percent of all U.S. watermelon production hails from four States—Florida, Georgia, Texas and California. Florida surpasses all other States as the main supplier of U.S. watermelons, accounting for total production of 907 million pounds, or 25 percent of domestic supplies in 2019. Seedless varieties have become increasingly popular, and Florida’s seedless shipments from January to May 2019 rose nearly 20 percent compared to the same time period the previous year. While total domestic production of watermelon has not risen, U.S. imports have. In 2019, imports reached a record high level of 1.7 billion pounds, making up roughly a third of all watermelons consumed. Mexico supplies on average 80 percent of U.S. watermelon imports annually, including higher shipments during the United States’ off-season in early spring. This chart is based on the Economic Research Service’s Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook from March 2020.

Retail orange juice sales rise during pandemic to highest levels in 5 years

Monday, June 15, 2020

Retail orange juice sales have been falling in the United States each year since 2010, but during the U.S. onset of the current COVID-19 pandemic, sales for orange juice rose. One reason for the increase is that U.S. consumers may have sought methods to increase their intake of vitamin C, a nutrient commonly believed to build up a healthy immune system, and orange juice sales during the four weeks leading up to April 11, 2020 subsequently reached the highest level in five years at 44.5 million gallons. The average price of frozen concentrate orange juice in April rose 5 percent from the previous month to $2.40 per 12 oz. can, the first March-to-April increase in sales price observed since 2012. In 2019, orange juice consumption in the United States had fallen to 2.25 gallons per capita, a 40 percent decline from 2010. The decrease in orange juice purchases is attributable to both demand and supply-side factors. Research has indicated that declining consumer interest in sugary beverages may be contributing to reduced purchases. On the supply side, citrus greening disease, an insect-borne illness, has decimated the Florida orange juice industry, decreasing bearing acreage of juice oranges by 30 percent since 2005. After their surge in April, sales of orange juice already are showing signs of retreating but are still well above average sales for this time of year. This chart is based on the March 2020 Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook and updated with Florida Department of Citrus A.C. Nielsen Sales data.

Citrus Greening Disease caused falling production in Florida, but production is forecast to stabilize in 2019/20

Friday, May 15, 2020

A disease affecting citrus trees hit Florida’s groves especially hard in the past decade and a half. But despite the disease’s ravages, Florida citrus production levels for the 2019/20 season are forecast to be about steady with last year (2018/19). The United States is a major global citrus producer with the 2018/19 crop valued at $3.35 billion. The citrus industry is vulnerable to numerous threats, including Huanglongbing (HLB), which has attacked the industry since 2005. HLB, also known as citrus greening disease, impedes citrus trees’ ability to process nutrients, disrupts the maturation of fruit, and shortens tree life. Although now present in every commercial citrus-producing State, including California, Arizona, and Texas, HLB has spread most rapidly through Florida, the nation’s top producer of oranges and grapefruit; it is now estimated to have infected all groves in the State. Since HLB arrived in Florida, the State went from producing nearly 80 percent of the nation’s non-tangerine citrus fruit to less than 42 percent. Disregarding a temporary drop in production in 2017/18 caused by Hurricane Irma, production levels have been relatively stable for the last four years. This steady trend in production may suggest Florida growers are succeeding at retarding further spread of the disease and minimizing its effect on infected trees. This chart is based on the Economic Research Service (ERS) Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Report, released March 2020, and ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook Tables, released October 2019.

U.S. avocado demand is climbing steadily

Friday, March 20, 2020

U.S. demand for avocados has increased steadily over the past two decades. Per capita consumption of avocados has tripled since 2001 to 8 pounds per person in 2018. Total U.S. production in 2018 was 364 million pounds, with California the major producer, accounting for 93 percent of U.S. avocado output in that year. U.S. acreage has declined over time, and production volume can vary between years. To support year-round demand, the United States imports avocados. In 2007, Mexico overtook Chile as the dominant supplier, and by 2018 accounted for 89 percent of fresh avocado imports. While Mexico sells avocados to the United States every month of the year, shipments are lower during the summer. In 2018, Peru was the second largest source of imports, and shipments increase during the summer. Although U.S. avocado production has dropped since 2001, growing demand has benefited domestic producers through higher prices. For example, the price received by California growers in 2018 is up 22 percent from 2011. Since avocados can mature on the tree for an extended period, U.S. growers look for opportunities when fruit quality is at its peak and market conditions are optimal to harvest and ship to domestic and export markets. This chart is based on Fruit and Tree Nut Yearbook Data released in October 2019.

USDA agencies funded $287.7 million towards 213 research projects on automation or mechanization in specialty crops, 2008-2018

Friday, February 14, 2020

At $64.7 billion, specialty crops comprised one-third of U.S. crop receipts and one-sixth of receipts for all agricultural products in 2017. Many specialty crops are labor-intensive in production, harvesting, or processing. For example, harvest often requires workers to accurately distinguish ripe and unripe fruits and vegetables and gently pick, sort, or package the fruit or vegetable by hand without damage. A long-term decline in the supply of farm labor in the U.S. has encouraged producers to select less labor-intensive crops, invest in labor-saving technologies, and develop strategies to increase labor productivity. A number of USDA programs support the development and use of automation or mechanization in the production and processing of U.S. specialty crops. From 2008-2018 these programs in the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funded $287.7 million toward 213 projects to develop and enhance the use of automation or mechanization in specialty crop production and processing. Projects covered a broad spectrum of technologies, including job aid and machinery automation; machine learning and data analysis; mechanical harvesting and processing; precision agriculture; remote sensing and drones; and sensors. Each of the USDA programs are designed differently to achieve unique objectives, although each program addresses the development and use of automation or mechanization in specialty crops in some form. The data in this chart are available in the February 2020 ERS report, Developing Automation and Mechanization for Specialty Crops: A Review of U.S. Department of Agriculture Programs.

Volatility in market prices for fruit and vegetables helps drive food loss during production and distribution

Monday, February 3, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that annually, over $161 billion of food at the retail and consumer stage of the supply chain goes uneaten. Food loss also occurs on farms and in the pre-retail distribution channels—the Food and Agricultural Organization estimated 30 percent of losses in fruits and vegetables occur in these earlier stages. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) recently examined the substantial role that expected costs, revenues, and risks play in food loss at the pre-retail level. Factors influencing food loss include price volatility: for example, vegetables have exhibited a relative variation in price more than 20 times that of grains used for feed. When prices fall below the cost of production, it becomes unprofitable for growers to advance produce through the supply chain. Alternatively, when prices rise, growers harvest more intensively, and may have the incentive to send lower-cosmetic-quality product to market, which can then be subject to increased loss further down the supply chain. Other economic factors that influence the level of food loss include labor cost and availability, availability of cold-chain infrastructure, aesthetic standards, consumer preferences, contract requirements, and policies related to the harvest and marketing of fresh produce. This chart appears in the recent ERS report, Economic Drivers of Food Loss at the Farm and Pre-Retail Sectors: A Look at the Produce Supply Chain in the United States.

U.S. apple crop estimate up

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

With the onset of cold weather the U.S. apple harvest for the 2019/20 marketing year (August-July) is wrapping up. The 2019/20 U.S. apple crop is forecast at 10.6 billion pounds, up 4 percent from a year ago as output gains in Western States (largely Washington and California) outweigh declines in Eastern States. The top apple State, Washington, expects a 7.2-billion pound crop of excellent quality, up 7 percent from last year. While this increase signals higher fresh-market supplies, flat-to-slightly-smaller crops in Michigan, New York, and Virginia may hinder gains in processed production. Overall, larger production indicates a possible downward pressure on apple-grower prices during the 2019/20 season-relative to 2018/19, likely boosting overall demand, especially in the fresh market. Pricing early in 2019/20, however, was supported by relatively strong late-2018/19 fresh apple grower prices due to tighter supplies. This chart is based on the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter, released September 2019.

Another large U.S. cranberry crop expected in 2019

Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and although cranberries nowadays are consumed year round and in many product forms, this holiday remains a time of year notable for cranberries and other traditional staples of the celebration. Despite a rainy spring, U.S. cranberry production is forecast to reach 904 million pounds (or 9.04 million barrels) in 2019, up 1 percent from a year ago. If achieved, U.S. production will be the second-largest in recent years, following record output of 963 million pounds in 2016. Most major cranberry-producing States anticipate slight increases in production (Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and New Jersey), with the exception of Oregon. Nearly steady to slight increases in crop size are forecasted for Wisconsin (560 million pounds) and Massachusetts (230 million pounds), the top two cranberry States. Under the Federal marketing order, the Cranberry Marketing Committee reports that volume-control measures implemented during the 2018/19 marketing season (September-August) and overall increased sales have helped reduce U.S. cranberry inventories. Prospects for ample domestic production again this year will likely be offset by lower carryover inventories from last season, tempering likely downward pressure on 2019/20 (September-August) cranberry grower prices. This chart is based on the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter, released September 2019.

ICYMI... Since the burgeoning of the international avocado trade, U.S. avocado production is highest from April to July, when imports from Mexico abate somewhat

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Development of Mexico’s avocado export sector prompted many changes in the U.S. market. USDA initially banned imports of Mexican avocados from 1914 to 1993 to prevent entry of avocado seed weevils into the United States. With the implementation of a USDA phytosanitary work plan from 1993 to 2007 that allowed Hass avocados from certain municipalities in the Mexican State of Michoacán to enter progressively more U.S. States, deliveries from Mexico increased rapidly, reaching 781,000 metric tons (annual average) during 2015-17. Ready access to Mexican product—along with advertising campaigns for avocados in general and Mexican avocados in particular—led to a sharp increase in U.S. avocado consumption. Between 1991-93 and 2015-17, avocado deliveries (imports and domestic production) increased from 193,000 metric tons to 1.1 million metric tons (annual averages). In response to a dramatic increase in foreign competition, U.S. producers have focused mainly on supplying the domestic market in months when imports from Mexico tend to be lower. A new phytosanitary work plan implemented in 2016 allows fresh avocados to be imported from any Mexican State subject to a systems approach to risk management, consisting of a number of sequential safeguards designed to progressively reduce risk of avocado seed weevils to an insignificant level. This chart is drawn from data discussed in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter released in March 2018. This Chart of Note was originally published October 24, 2018.

Imports from Latin America make up a growing share of U.S. blueberry consumption

Thursday, June 13, 2019

U.S. per capita consumption of blueberries has more than tripled since the mid 2000’s. Availability of blueberries is forecasted to reach record levels in the 2018/19 marketing season, totaling 660 million pounds. Rising U.S. demand over the last two decades has been supported by increased availability from domestic production and imports. Imports, however, have risen more rapidly than domestic production. Imports’ share of the U.S. market rose from 44 percent in 2005 to nearly 60 percent in 2018. Chile has long been the leading source for U.S. blueberry imports, representing over half of all imports between 2008 and 2013. Since then, new markets have emerged and captured an increasing share of the U.S. blueberry import market. Peru and Mexico, for the first time, combined in 2018 to export more blueberries to the United States than Chile. This, coupled with additional imports from countries such as Canada and Argentina, brought Chile’s share of U.S. blueberry imports to its lowest levels since 2005, at 38 percent. Sourced mainly from the Southern Hemisphere, the majority of blueberry imports occurs during the off-season for domestic production. The U.S. production season begins in April and runs through the summer into early fall. This chart appears in the bi-annual ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter released in March 2019.

Almonds lead increase in tree nut consumption

Friday, May 31, 2019

Over the past five decades, Americans’ annual consumption of tree nuts has grown from 1.38 pounds per person in 1970 to 3.69 pounds in 2016, according to ERS’s Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series (a proxy for consumption). Almond consumption experienced the largest growth, increasing by 1.35 pounds per person from 1970 to 2016. Consumption of pecans and walnuts averaged a little over one-third of a pound per person, remaining relatively stable throughout the years. Pistachios have steadily increased in popularity since 1970, reaching 0.33 pound per person in 2016. Consumption of other nuts (cashews, Brazil nuts, chestnuts, pine nuts, and many nut mixes) doubled, reaching almost a pound per person in 2016. Cashews make up the largest share of this grouping. Promotional programs that tout the nutritional value of nuts, including their beneficial levels of vitamin E and omega fatty acids, and increased awareness and demand for nut milks have likely contributed to the growth in per capita nut consumption. The data for this chart come from the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series in ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.