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Cranberry production is up in 2018, just in time for the holidays

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

There will be ample cranberry supplies for U.S. consumers this holiday season. U.S. cranberry production in 2018 is forecast at 8.63 million barrels (or 863 million pounds), up 3 percent from a year ago. If achieved, 2018 production will be the third largest in history; the record of 963 million pounds was produced in 2016. Wisconsin is the leading producer of cranberries, accounting for about half of total area harvested over the past 3 years. The State’s production represents nearly two-thirds of the national total. Despite some frost damage, this year’s production in Wisconsin is anticipated to be 550 million pounds, up 2 percent from last year and the State’s third largest following record output of 613 million pounds in 2016 (and 602 million in 2013). Larger-than-usual crops are also expected in other top-producing States, except Massachusetts—the second largest producer—where weeks of dry weather limited berry size, causing a slight reduction in output. Ample production and large stocks in storage will likely continue to put pressure on cranberry grower prices during the 2018/19 marketing season (September-August). This chart is based on ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter, released September 2018.

Hurricane Michael’s impact on Georgia’s 2018 pecan crop will likely lead to lower production than previously expected

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Although Hurricane Michael weakened to a Category 3 storm as it swept through southwest and central Georgia, the heavy rains and powerful winds have caused uncertainty about the State’s pecan crop in 2018. Some farmers reported large amounts of pecans blown from trees and many trees blown over, while other producers reported limb and debris cleanup that will be costly and delay the harvest. Producing the most pecans of any U.S. State, Georgia accounts for over one-third of total production. Before the hurricane, USDA forecast that Georgia would produce 110 million pounds of the national projected total of 289 million pounds of pecans in 2018. Although hard data are not yet available on the hurricane’s impact on Georgia’s pecan crop, the 2018 harvest will likely produce less than expected. Despite Georgia’s expected losses, the State’s total is unlikely to fall below the 85-million-pound projected total of New Mexico (the second-largest pecan-producing State) for 2018. This chart is drawn from data discussed in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter, released in September 2018.

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

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.

Watermelon is the least expensive fruit on a per cup equivalent basis

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Celebrating National Watermelon Day this Friday with a big slice of watermelon will be good for your health and for your food budget. ERS recently calculated average prices paid by consumers in 2016 for 62 fresh and processed fruits measured in cup equivalents. A cup equivalent is the edible portion that will generally fit in a 1-cup measuring cup; 1/2 cup for raisins and other dried fruits. Fresh watermelon at 20 cents per cup equivalent and apple juice (made from concentrate) at 26 cents per cup equivalent were the lowest priced fruits, while fresh blackberries, fresh raspberries, and canned cherries were the priciest. Twenty-nine fruits cost less than 80 cents per cup equivalent. Mechanical versus manual harvesting, distance the fruit travels to the store, perishability, and multiple other factors all play a role in fruit costs per cup equivalent. The data in this chart are from ERS's Fruit and Vegetable Prices data product, updated July 11, 2018.

Avocado imports continue to play a significant role in meeting growing U.S. demand

Monday, July 30, 2018

Per capita use of avocados has tripled since the beginning of the 2000s and now totals just over 7 pounds per person annually in the United States. In the 2017/18 marketing year, total domestic use, defined as net production plus imports minus stocks in cold storage, is projected to match the record high of 2.3 billion pounds set in 2015/16. The rise of the fruit’s availability reflects its growing popularity for use in foods like guacamole and in sandwiches. Increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of “healthy fats,” like the monounsaturated fats found in avocados, has also played a role in its growth. Domestically, avocados are grown in Florida (on average, over 16 percent of total), California (over 80 percent), and Hawaii (less than 1 percent), but net domestic production has not kept up with consumer demand. Nearly all of the growth in per capita use since the mid-2000s has been satisfied by imports, particularly from Mexico, which is the source of the vast majority of total import volume. Chile once supplied a majority of U.S. avocado imports, but it was surpassed by Mexico beginning in 2005. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report released in March 2018.

Pollination service fees now roughly equal to honey sales as a share of revenue for beekeepers

Monday, June 18, 2018

The essential role of honey bees (Apis mellifera) for crop pollination is well known in modern agriculture, but for most of human history honey bees were kept primarily for honey production. In 1988, pollination services—renting out bee colonies to pollinate certain crops—produced only a small share of beekeeper revenue, at just under 11 percent. Since then, the value of pollination services has increased sharply. In 2016, pollination service fees represented over 41 percent of total beekeeper revenues and exceeded honey sales. The primary driver in the value increase has been growing demand for almonds, which were responsible for 82 percent of all pollination service fees in 2016. Recent data show almond farmers paid $165 per colony rented over the several-week-long pollination season in 2016, roughly triple the average of $55 for other crops. This chart appears in the ERS Infographic, Pollination Service Fees, released in March 2018.

U.S. fresh blueberry demand continues to increase

Friday, May 11, 2018

Per capita U.S. fresh blueberry use has increased to record-breaking levels each year since 2006, reaching 1.79 pounds in 2017. 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, climbing to a record 328.3 million pounds in 2016—exceeding domestic production for the first time over the period 1980-2017. Imports’ share of domestic use rose from about 25 percent in the 1980s to over 50 percent in recent years. More than half of total import volume come from Chile; other key suppliers include Canada, Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. Being sourced mainly from the Southern Hemisphere, a majority of the imports occur 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 2018.

Export markets important for U.S. tree nut producers

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Unlike the fruit and vegetable sectors, the U.S. tree nut industry (as a whole) is a net exporter. While almonds, produced mainly in California, have been exported at high levels for decades, many other tree nuts have expanded the share of domestic supplies sold on the export market. U.S. almond, walnut, pistachio, and hazelnut production are dependent on exports for more than 50 percent of sales, for example. Expanding export demand has driven domestic grower prices higher, although record tree nut production in recent years has stabilized prices for most varieties. The largest markets for U.S. tree nuts include Hong Kong, India, Spain, but trade is widely dispersed across the European Union and Southeast and East Asia. Almonds represented 57 percent of all U.S. tree nut exports, by volume, in 2017. Although exports of tree nuts have grown at a faster rate, domestic use of tree nuts has expanded as well. Domestic use of tree nuts has doubled since 2000, while exports have tripled. This chart appears in the April ERS Amber Waves data feature, "Consumer Demand for Fresh Fruit Drives Increases Across Sector."

U.S. melon availability down from record levels reached in 2016

Friday, April 13, 2018

Estimated domestic use (also known as domestic availability, which is a proxy for consumption) of melons totaled 8.17 billion pounds in 2017, down 4 percent from the previous year’s record high. This estimate translates to 25.1 pounds per person, down from 26.3 pounds in 2016 and slightly above the previous 5-year average. Domestic use equals net production (domestic production minus exports) plus imports. Declines in U.S. cantaloupe and honeydew production and lower melon imports reduced total domestic melon use in 2017. The United States remains a net importer of melons, with exports far lower than the volume of imports. In 2017, the United States imported 3 billion pounds of melons. As melon imports have risen over the past few decades, they have captured an increasing share of the U.S. fresh melon market—from an average share of less than 10 percent during the 1980s and 1990s to 37 percent over the last 5 years. Much of U.S. melon imports are counter-seasonal imports—imports sourced from countries with longer or opposite growing seasons from the United States—to feed consumer demand for year-round fruit options. Meanwhile, following rapid growth in the 1990s, melon exports have remained relatively steady at nearly 600 million pounds—about 10 percent of U.S production—since 2000. This chart appears in the bi-annual ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook newsletter released in March 2018.

The United States is the world’s second leading exporter of fresh cherries with Canada as its leading destination

Thursday, November 16, 2017

U.S. sweet cherries continue to be competitive in the international market, although the U.S. role in the global cherry export market has diminished slightly during the past two decades as other major exporters have gained ground. Once the world’s leading fresh cherry exporter, the United States now ranks second, next to Chile. The Nation accounted for nearly 20 percent of the world’s average export volume during 2014-16 and around one-quarter of the average world cherry export value. During this 3-year period, the United States exported an average of 175.2 million pounds, while Chile exported an average of 211.0 million pounds. Canada is now the largest export destination for U.S. fresh cherries, outranking Japan, which dominated this market during the 1990s and most years from 2000 to 2005. More than one-third of total annual U.S. cherry export volume went to Canada during 2010-16. South Korea, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are also key markets for U.S. fresh cherries and together receive over 40 percent of total export volume annually. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook Special Article, "U.S. Cherries," released in September 2017.

U.S. per capita fresh pear use continues to decline

Friday, October 27, 2017

In August, USDA forecast the 2017 U.S. pear crop to decline for a fourth consecutive year to 1.41 billion pounds, down 4 percent from the previous year. If realized, this year’s production will be the smallest production reported since 1980, pointing to stronger pear prices during the 2017/18 marketing season (July-June). Forecast lower production in Washington State (down 20 percent from the previous year), the largest pear-producing State, is driving the smaller overall U.S. crop. One cause for Washington State and the greater Pacific Northwest’s decline, was a long winter and cold spring, which delayed the growth of pears during that period. Declining production and higher prices have translated into reduced per capita pear consumption, which has trended downward for most of the last 20 years except for a temporary resurgence in the mid-2000s. Higher prices from lower pear output in 2017 are expected to diminish demand, leading to a projected per capita use of just over 2.5 pounds per person. This would be the lowest total since 1984. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter, released on September 29, 2017.

The fall apple harvest is expected to dip slightly this year, but still plenty to go around

Friday, October 13, 2017

As the fall season commences, the apple harvest reaches its peak, marked by harvest festivals around the country. This year, the forecast for total apple production is down slightly relative to the near-record harvest of the 2016 marketing year, but is still the sixth highest total since 2000. The slight dip in production is expected to provide a boost to U.S. apple prices, leading to greater returns to producers in key apple-producing States like Washington, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Unlike other popular fruits like bananas or blueberries, the majority —over 90 percent—of domestic fresh apple consumption is supplied by U.S. producers. In addition to supplying the domestic market, nearly one-third of the fresh market crop is exported to countries like Mexico, India, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Saudi Arabia. Apples are traditionally eaten as a fresh fruit, although uses extend over many processed forms, such as juice and cider, applesauce, frozen, dried, and fresh slices. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook newsletter, released on September 29, 2017.

U.S. imports 97 percent of its papaya with 80 percent coming from Mexico

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

As of August 8, 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified a total of 109 people who were infected in 16 States with two strains of Salmonella after consuming papaya. The CDC determined that the likely source of contamination is a farm in Mexico. U.S. papaya imports from Mexico more than doubled from 154 million pounds in 2000 to 452 million pounds in 2016. This dramatic rise is likely because of the diverse American diet that is driven by an increase in the immigrant population, especially from Latin America and Asia where papaya is more plentiful. Mexican production has accounted for 67 percent of total imports in 2007 to 82 percent of total imports in 2016. Currently, imports account for approximately 97 percent of domestic availability in the United States; meaning that Mexican production accounts for approximately 80 percent of all domestically available papaya. The Salmonella contaminations are not likely to have a significant impact on supply of U.S. imports since the incident appears to be isolated to one farm, but consumer demand has been shown to respond to food safety outbreaks. The data for this chart are from the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Yearbook tables updated in August 2017.

Berries led growth in frozen fruit consumption over the last three decades

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

America’s love affair with frozen smoothies continues to grow and along with it consumption of its quintessential ingredient, frozen fruit. Between the early 1980s and 2015, the annual supply of frozen fruit available for consumption, led by a doubling in demand for frozen berries, grew by 61 percent to 4.8 pounds per person—about 5 percent of 2015’s total U.S. fruit availability. While strawberries remain consumers’ favorite frozen fruit—accounting for 40 percent of availability in 2015—blueberries and raspberries increased their share from 8 percent in 1980-85 to 20 percent in 2010-15. Peaches led the growth in availability of non-berry frozen fruits, followed by cherries. Frozen apples, used mainly in commercial and foodservice baking, lost market share, dropping from 17 to 8 percent of frozen fruit availability over 1980-2015. Consumer demand for healthy, convenient foods and manufacturers’ use of improved freezing technologies to improve product quality, along with colorful packaging and smoothie-ready fruit combinations and add-ins, underlie the growth in frozen fruit consumption. The data for this chart are from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System, updated July 26, 2017.

Avocado imports play a significant role in meeting growing U.S. demand

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Per capita use of avocados tripled since the beginning of the 2000s and now totals over 7 pounds per person annually in the United States. In the 2015/16 marketing year, total domestic availability reached a record high of 2.3 billion pounds. In addition to the country’s large and growing Hispanic population (who regard avocados as a staple), the rise of the fruit’s availability reflects its growing popularity for use in foods like guacamole and in various sandwiches. Increasing consumer awareness of the benefits of “healthy fats,” like the mono-unsaturated fats found in avocados, has also played a role in its growth. Domestically, avocados are grown in Florida (on average, over 16 percent of total), California (over 80 percent), and Hawaii (less than 1 percent), and net production has not kept up with consumer demand. Nearly all of the growth in per capita consumption since the mid-2000s has been satisfied by rising imports, particularly from Mexico which comprised a vast majority of total import volume. Chile once supplied a majority of U.S. avocado imports but was outranked by Mexico beginning in 2005. Phytosanitary reasons prevented entry of Mexican avocados into the United States for many years, but since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the country’s limited access to the U.S. market has slowly expanded. Now, imports from Mexico are allowed in all 50 States on a year-round basis. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report released in April 2017.

U.S. fresh blueberry demand continues to rise

Monday, April 17, 2017

Per capita use of blueberries nearly tripled since 2006, largely attributable to growing demand based on the potential health benefits of berries in the diet. In recent years, farmers have expanded production to help meet this demand. As a result, net domestic production doubled and imports increased by almost four times. In addition to increased demand, consumer preferences for year-round availability of popular fresh fruits and vegetables necessitates a greater reliance on imported goods. Domestic blueberry production primarily occurs in the spring and summer seasons. In the fall and winter, southern hemisphere countries like Chile are in their growing season and supply the United States with a significant share of its blueberry imports. In 2016, net domestic production fell slightly, while imports increased. This resulted from lower than expected production in States that normally supply the fresh market like, Georgia, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, and California. This chart appears in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut Outlook report released in April 2017.

Retail orange juice prices dropped swiftly to close out 2016

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Average retail prices for orange juice were above long-term averages for 2015 and most of 2016, but a surprising drop in October brought prices back in line with years prior. Retail prices increased because of declining domestic production, which has been below long-term averages since 2013. The United States also imports a large amount of orange juice with the majority coming from Brazil. Forecasts for Brazilian orange juice production are 30 percent higher for the 2016/17 marketing year compared to the prior year, and will likely lead to more robust exports from the country. October 2016 imports were more than double the previous year and likely signaled to retailers an increase in supply for the upcoming year. This chart is drawn from data reported in the ERS Fruit and Tree Nut dataset updated in January 2017.

Steady increases in at-home consumption of berries resulted in a rising share of U.S. berry consumption occurring at home

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Flavor, healthfulness, convenience, and year-round availability have contributed to increasing consumer demand for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and other berries, with per capita loss-adjusted availability growing from an average of 4.5 pounds per person per year during 1994-98 to 6.6 pounds during 2007-08 and to 9.9 pounds in 2014. Linking ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data with food intake surveys from 1994-2008 reveals that berries, like other fruit, are mainly consumed at home rather than away from home at eating out places. The increase in berry consumption comes exclusively from purchases at grocery stores (the food-at-home market). The at-home share of berry consumption rose from 83 percent during 1994-98 to 89-91 percent during 2003-08. The loss-adjusted availability of berries consumed at home rose from 3.7 pounds per person per year during 1994-98 to 5.9 pounds during 2007-08, while away-from-home consumption stayed just shy of 0.8 pounds per person. This chart appears in the ERS report U.S. Food Commodity Availability by Food Source, 1994-2008, December 2016.

Apples/applesauce and pineapples accounted for 56 percent of canned fruit availability in 2010-14

Thursday, January 19, 2017

According to ERS’s food availability data, 14.2 pounds per capita of canned fruit were available for consumption by U.S. consumers in 2010-14, down after averaging 21 pounds per person in 1990-94 and 25.1 pounds per person in 1970-74. Canned apple and applesauce availability was 4.1 pounds per person in 2010-14, while canned pineapple availability—the second highest—was 3.9 pounds per person. With the exception of olives, per person availability fell for all canned fruit between 1970-74 and 2010-14. For example, in 1970-74 canned peaches led canned fruit availability at 6.5 pounds per person, but dropped to 2.7 pounds per person in 2010-14—a 58-percent decline. The availability of canned pears fell from 3.8 pounds per person in 1970-74 to 2 pounds per person in 2010-14. One reason for declines in canned fruit availability is that some consumers switched to fresh fruit. Canned fruit’s share of total U.S. fruit availability decreased from 10.6 percent in 1970-74 to 5.6 percent in 2010-14, while fresh fruit availability grew by 34.5 pounds per person and boosted fresh fruit’s share from 41 percent to 52 percent. The data for this chart are from ERS’s Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System.

Chinese imports of fruit continue to rise as U.S. competes for market share

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The rise in Chinese living standards has spurred demand for a more diverse and nutritious diet, leading to a surge in China’s fruit imports. Fruit is a discretionary item consumed as a dessert, given as gifts, and distributed at meetings and banquets. With greater disposable income, demand for fruit (particularly fresh fruit) has grown rapidly. In the most recent 8 years, import volume grew more than three times to 3.8 million metric tons in 2015. The United States was a pioneer in opening China’s fruit market during the 1990s, but China’s recent surge of imports came mainly from tropical and Southern Hemisphere countries. The United States remains the predominant Northern-Hemisphere supplier, reflecting quality, extended seasonal availability, and other competitive attributes—but its share of total Chinese fruit imports declined for most of the new millennium. In 2015, there was a small uptick in the U.S. share moving from 2.6 percent to 3.5 percent, but far below the peak share of 11.5 percent in 2001. This chart appears in the ERS U.S. Fruit Competes for China Market Share special article published in September 2016.