ERS Charts of Note
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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Christmas trees and poinsettias are iconic symbols of the holiday season. While the vast majority are grown in the United States for domestic use, a small share of both plants are imported from Canada. Trade is highly seasonal, with 99 percent of Christmas trees and 95 percent of poinsettias shipping between November and December. From 2000–15, live Christmas tree imports averaged around 2 million trees per year at an inflation-adjusted annual value of $36.1 million. However, by 2022, live tree imports reached nearly 2.8 million trees at a value of $68 million. Import values of live trees had previously spiked in 2020 because of COVID-19 supply chain issues, and prices have remained relatively high since. Poinsettias first grew in popularity as a Christmas flower in the United States after they were brought from Mexico in the 1820s. In the early 2000s, the United States imported as many as 5.9 million live plants per year before that number dipped to 1.2 million in 2011, in parallel to the narrowing of the U.S. to Canadian dollar exchange rate. In recent years, the number of plants has gradually increased with a more significant increase in value. In 2022, live poinsettia imports totaled 2.2 million plants worth $11.5 million. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, November 2022.
Thursday, September 15, 2022
The value of total U.S. exports, excluding the re-export of foreign-origin goods, has grown at an average annual rate of 6 percent since 2002, reaching a record high of $1.4 trillion in fiscal year (FY) 2021. While the bulk of total U.S. exports was associated with industrial supplies and capital goods, agriculture’s share of total U.S. exports has steadily increased. Between fiscal years 2002 and 2021, the value of U.S. exports of agricultural products rose by an average of 11 percent annually, exceeding the overall rate of increase for total U.S. exports. In 2021, agricultural exports accounted for 12 percent of the total value, up from 9 percent in 2002. Growth in agricultural exports has largely been resilient to market shocks associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Even as total U.S. exports fell by 12 percent during COVID-19’s onset in fiscal year 2020, agricultural exports remained steady on the strength of surging shipments of soybeans, corn, and pork to China. In 2021, total U.S. exports rebounded by 14 percent as global demand recovered and trade restrictions were relaxed. However, exports of agricultural products surged 23 percent to $172 billion on increased demand for grains and feed, followed by oilseeds and animal products. Much of this demand came from China, but also Mexico and Canada, consistently among the top three importers of U.S. products. While China’s demand for U.S. soybeans, corn, and other feed products rose because of its hog sector rebuilding from the African swine flu outbreak, agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada were bolstered by their growing livestock and poultry sectors, integrated supply chains, and the ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Led by increases in corn, cotton, and soybean shipments, agricultural exports are forecast to reach a record $196 billion in FY 2022 and are projected to remain strong at $193.5 billion in FY 2023. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, August 2022.
Wednesday, July 13, 2022
In fiscal year (FY) 2021, the value of U.S. fruit and vegetable imports rose to a record level. That record is projected to rise another 9 percent in FY 2022 (October–September) to $42.6 billion. Import volumes are also expected to grow 3 percent in FY 2022 to 29.4 million metric tons. This would further extend the trend seen from FY 2000 to FY 2021, during which the volume of U.S. fruit and vegetable imports increased 124 percent while the inflation-adjusted value of those imports increased 208 percent. This shift indicates that, on a per volume basis, imported fruits and vegetable products are priced higher than they were 20 years ago as growth in the value of these imports has exceeded growth in volume. Steadily increasing unit prices for imported fresh fruits and vegetables, up from $753 per metric ton in FY 2000 to $1,192 in FY 2021, have contributed significantly to the observed trend. In contrast, prices for imports of processed fruits and vegetables have been relatively stable. In FY 2021, fruits and vegetables accounted for 24 percent (almost $39 billion) of the total value of U.S. agricultural imports. Fresh fruit imports comprised the largest individual share by value at $15.5 billion, followed by fresh vegetables at $10.5 billion and processed vegetables and processed fruits, which were each about $6.5 billion. Some of the main fresh products were berries, tomatoes, avocados, and bananas, while the chief processed products included fruit juices and frozen vegetables. This chart was drawn from USDA, Economic Research Service’s Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, published May 2022.
Friday, February 25, 2022
At more than $172 billion, the total value of U.S. agricultural exports reached a high in fiscal year (FY) 2021. Values are projected to remain elevated in FY 2022 (October–September) with the current forecast at $183.5 billion. Exports grew in most trading regions, although East Asia (China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea) recently has accounted for the largest share. Exports to East Asia slipped during the 2010s, from a high of $54 billion in 2014 to a low of $37.7 billion in 2019. Since 2019, exports rebounded to $61.7 billion in 2021, of which China accounts for 54 percent and Japan 22 percent, and are forecast to exceed $66 billion in FY 2022. Much of the growth in East Asian exports was associated with higher consumption of grains and oilseeds as China rebuilds its pork industry after devastation caused by African swine fever. U.S. sales to North American trading partners provided the second largest contribution to U.S. agricultural export growth. Abundant U.S. corn supplies supported the increases in grain and feed exports, especially to Mexico. In 2021, grain and feed exports to Mexico and Canada rose to $11.8 billion. Agricultural exports to the next largest trading regions—Southeast Asia and the European Union (EU)—were comparatively flat, with both grain and oilseed exports to the EU down in 2020 and 2021. This chart is drawn from data in USDA, Economic Research Service’s (ERS) Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade and data in ERS's U.S. Agricultural Trade Update.
Monday, February 14, 2022
In the United States, the exchange of chocolate candies and other cocoa-based confections is a popular Valentine’s Day tradition. With cocoa beans only grown abroad, trade is critical to meet the U.S. consumer’s fondness for cocoa-based treats. The United States imported an average of $5.06 billion a year worth of cocoa and products between 2017–21 (not adjusted for inflation), including cocoa beans, paste, butter, powder, as well as foods prepared with cocoa such as chocolate. Imported shipments of chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa were the largest share of imports and were valued at almost $2.8 billion a year between 2017 and 2021. This category includes large bricks of chocolate that are further processed, in addition to smaller, retail-ready products. Cocoa beans, the raw seeds from the cacao tree that are processed into derivative products, were imported mostly from Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador, and Ghana. The import value of cocoa beans averaged more than $1.1 billion annually over the 5-year period. Cocoa butter shipments, principally supplied by Indonesia and Malaysia, were valued at $576 million annually, while supplies of cocoa paste, mostly originating from Cote d’Ivoire, averaged about $293 million a year. The United States also exports chocolate and cocoa products to Canada and Mexico. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, November 2021.
Monday, January 24, 2022
In 2018, six U.S. trading partners—Canada, China, the European Union, India, Mexico, and Turkey—announced retaliatory tariffs affecting agricultural and food products. The agricultural products targeted for retaliation were valued at $30.4 billion in 2017, with individual product lines experiencing tariff increases ranging from 2 to 140 percent. USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimated trade losses from retaliatory tariffs by State and commodity using data in the ERS State Exports, Cash Receipts Estimates. Estimated annualized losses from mid-2018 through the end of 2019 totaled $13.2 billion across 17 commodity groups, led by soybeans, sorghum, and pork. While retaliatory tariffs affected all States, those in the Midwest experienced the largest losses. ERS researchers estimated Iowa lost $1.46 billion; Illinois, $1.41 billion; and Kansas, $955 million, all on an annualized basis. Iowa and Illinois, which together produce 25 to 30 percent of U.S. soybeans, both experienced trade losses in excess of $1 billion for soybeans alone. The retaliatory tariffs followed the issuance of U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from major trading partners and on a broad range of imports from China. This chart can be found in the ERS report, The Economic Impacts of Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture, published in January 2022.
Friday, November 12, 2021
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) reports that the total value of U.S. agricultural imports reached a new high in fiscal year (FY) 2022 (October–September) and will remain elevated in FY 2022. Total U.S. agricultural import values were recorded at more than $163 billion in FY 2021 and are forecast to exceed $159 billion in FY 2022. By dollar value, the largest category of U.S. agricultural imports is horticultural products, which includes fruit, vegetables, tree nuts, wine, beer, and spirits. Values of fresh fruit imports, such as bananas, avocados, strawberries, and blueberries, have trended upward in recent years as more produce is imported during the off-season to meet U.S. consumer demand for year-round produce. Rising import volumes and values of fresh vegetables, wine, and beer also contributed to overall growth in horticultural imports. The value of horticultural product imports is $86.1 billion in FY 2021, up almost $19 billion from the 5-year average of $67.5 billion. Livestock, dairy, and poultry imports in FY 2021 are valued at $21.0 billion, up from their 5-year average of $17.4 billion to $20.1 billion in FY 2022. Sugar and tropical products, which include coffee and cocoa, increased to $23.9 billion, up from their 5-year average of $21.6 billion. This chart is drawn from data in ERS’s Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, and data in ERS's U.S. Agricultural Trade Update, which shows that U.S. agricultural exports were at a new high in FY 2021 as well.
Monday, October 4, 2021
USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) projects the total value of U.S. agricultural exports to reach an all-time high in fiscal year (FY) 2022 (October–September). Higher shipments of major categories of commodities including grains and feeds, oilseeds and products, and livestock, poultry, and dairy products are primarily driving the increase in value. Total U.S. agricultural export values are projected to reach $177.5 billion in FY 2022, up from their previous high of $173.5 billion in FY 2021. Grains and feeds export values are projected up from their 5-year average, reflecting higher international demand for corn, wheat, and feeds. Oilseeds and products are projected to reach a record $43.5 billion in FY 2022. International demand for soybeans coupled with higher prices is projected to drive export values to a record high for FY 2021 before increasing further in FY 2022. Soybean meal exports also are projected to reach record value. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports, which have averaged $29.5 billion from 2015 to 2020, are forecast to rise to $36.8 billion in FY 2022. This projected increase is led by a rise in export value for all product groups except pork, with especially strong exports in beef and dairy. Higher prices and higher traded volumes for many commodities along with the reconciliation of trade disputes all contribute to the growth in export value. This chart is drawn from data in ERS’s Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, August 26, 2021, and reflects USDA’s new definition of “Agricultural Products,” which includes ethanol, distilled spirits, and manufactured tobacco products and excludes rubber and allied products.
Friday, September 17, 2021
China is the world’s largest consumer of wheat, accounting for 19 percent of global wheat consumption in marketing year 2020/21 (July–June), more than four times the U.S. share. China also became a leading importer during 2020/21, with purchases estimated at 10.6 million metric tons, China’s highest import total since the 1990s. USDA forecasts China’s 2021/22 imports at 10 million metric tons. Before the 2010/11 marketing year, China’s wheat imports typically totaled 1 million metric tons or less. More recently, wheat imports totaled 3 to 5 million metric tons most years between marketing years 2011/12 to 2019/20. The surge in imports in 2020/21 can be attributed to China’s strong demand for wheat use in animal feed, replenishment of the Chinese Government reserves with high-quality wheat, and efforts to meet import commitments in the U.S.-China Phase One trade agreement. According to China’s customs data, the United States supplied 3 million metric tons of 2020/21 wheat imports—approximately a 28-percent share. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) report, Potential Wheat Demand in China: Applicants for Import Quota, August 2021, and includes updated data from ERS’ Wheat Data product.
Friday, July 23, 2021
After reaching a 5-year high in 2020, the value of U.S. agricultural exports is forecast to reach an all-time high in fiscal year (FY) 2021, which ends September 30. Led by strong shipments of corn and soybeans, as well as livestock, poultry, and dairy products, total export values are projected to reach $164.0 billion. Based on trade data to date and expectations for reduced competition from Brazil, which has intensified already strong demand, U.S. corn exports are forecast to reach record levels totaling $17.2 billion in FY 2021. Likewise, expectations for continued robust export demand of U.S. soybeans in FY 2021, mainly from China, support a record-high export value of $28.9 billion. Since 1996, U.S. agricultural exports have nearly tripled because of a range of factors, including China’s joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 and the advent of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the mid-1990s (succeeded by the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement). Like exports, in FY 2021, imports are projected to reach an all-time high, largely driven by observations of surging imports to date of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, as well as alcoholic beverages. This chart is drawn from data in USDA, Economic Research Service’s Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, May 26, 2021.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
China’s corn imports jumped to a record 11.3 million metric tons in 2020, more than twice the volume imported in past years. The increase reflected rapidly increasing Chinese corn prices and China’s commitment to buy U.S. agricultural products under the Phase One trade agreement between China and the United States. Corn is the predominant ingredient in China’s growing animal feed production and is widely used in other food, starch, and alcohol products. In past years, a cumbersome import quota made it difficult for Chinese feed mills and processors to import corn, so they often imported substitutes such as sorghum, barley, distillers’ grains, cassava, and field peas that have low prices and no quotas. Imports of all feed ingredients were relatively low during 2019 because of high tariffs on U.S. commodities and a lull in feed demand due to a disease epidemic that reduced China’s swine herd. In 2020, imports of corn and its substitutes increased to a combined total of more than 30 million metric tons. Large purchases by Chinese state-owned companies and a rapid increase in Chinese corn prices appear to have driven the increase in corn imports—which exceeded the quota for the first time. Rebuilding of the swine herd and waivers of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. sorghum may have contributed to the increase in imports of substitutes. However, imports of U.S. distillers’ grains were still constrained by high duties imposed by a 2016 Chinese anti-dumping investigation. This chart appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Feed Outlook, May 2021.
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
The United States is a major exporter of agricultural products, with about 20 percent of its farm output sold abroad. Economic crises in foreign markets typically reduce U.S. export sales. Economic crises decrease countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and consumer demand, including demand for imported agricultural goods. Crises also often weaken, or depreciate, countries’ currency against the U.S. dollar, which lowers their imports by making foreign products more expensive compared with domestically produced substitutes. To examine how a worldwide economic crisis might affect U.S. agricultural exports, researchers at USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) simulated a hypothetical economic crisis in the eight largest U.S. foreign agricultural markets. The exercise indicated that the value of U.S. exports of the seven commodities given in the chart could decline in the year of an economic crisis by $4 billion, an export drop of 6.6 percent (using average 2017-19 export volumes as the base). Model results show the value of U.S. exports of soybeans, beef, and pork falling by around 8 percent, and exports of wheat and corn by about 5 percent. The export value for a good equals its export volume multiplied by the trade price. Export values in the ERS exercise drop by a greater percentage than export volumes because the global economic crisis substantially decreases world demand, and thereby lowers prices, for traded agricultural products. The results of this exercise can provide insight into how the current world economic crisis caused by Coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting U.S. agricultural exports. This chart appears in the Economic Research Report Economic Crises and U.S. Agricultural Exports, released in April 2021.
Friday, April 9, 2021
China’s inspectors destroy or turn away almost 3,000 foreign food shipments annually for reasons such as lacking proper documentation, failing to meet labeling requirements, or having obvious damage or sanitation problems. Research conducted by USDA’s Economic Research Service shows China is more likely to reject consumer-ready packaged items such as baking products, snacks, health food, wine, and other beverages. These consumer-oriented items comprise a relatively large share of food imports from the European Union (EU) and United States, the two countries with the largest average annual number of rejections. China rejected an average of 207 U.S. food shipments annually during 2013–19, far fewer than the 740 European Union (EU) shipments refused annually. The large number of EU rejections is consistent with its status as leading supplier of China’s food imports with an average of $11.6 billion annually. The United States was the third-leading supplier, with an average of $4.6 billion (excluding soybeans, feeds and other agricultural items not used directly as food). However, the average annual number of rejected shipments (fewer than 60) from New Zealand, Canada, and Indonesia was low compared with the value of China’s imports from those countries. A factor influencing the number of China’s rejections is the mix of food products China imports from the EU and the United States. Consumer-ready products such as those from the EU and the United States tend to be rejected with higher frequency than products shipped in bulk such as powdered milk, canola, fresh fruit, and vegetable oil that China imports from other major food-supplying countries. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, China’s Refusal of Food Imports, March 2021.
Monday, January 11, 2021
Dairy consumption is on the rise in Southeast Asia, a region characterized by rapid economic growth, urbanization, and changing food consumption patterns. To meet rising demand, many dairy products must be imported because the region’s climate limits its ability to produce milk. The value of imported dairy products in Southeast Asia grew from $3.8 billion in 2006 (adjusted for inflation) to $6.3 billion in 2018. Dairy products imported from the United States grew from $401 million to $738 million over that time, and dairy imports from most other trading partners rose as well. Imports from Australia, however, declined after years of drought resulted in lower milk yields and smaller dairy herds, and the United States overtook Australia in rank, rising from the fourth to the third largest dairy import supplier for the region. Southeast Asian countries also import dairy products from their regional neighbors and the rest of the world. The top dairy products imported by Southeast Asian nations are skim milk powder, whole milk powder, infant formula, butterfat products, cheese, and whey products. The United States is a major supplier of skim milk powder, whey products, cheese, and lactose to the region. This chart was drawn from the Economic Research Service report, Prospects for Growth in U.S. Dairy Exports to Southeast Asia.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Brazil has emerged as a major competitor for the United States in global agricultural markets, and is now the world’s third largest exporter of agricultural products behind the European Union (EU) and the United States. Brazil’s macroeconomic policies—currency devaluation, in particular—have played an important role in its position as one of the top exporters of agricultural products, including soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar, coffee, orange juice, and meat. Because exported Brazilian commodities are priced in dollars, depreciation of Brazil’s local currency, the real (BRL), has meant that Brazilian farmers have received more BRL for each dollar of export revenues. Export sales therefore have become more profitable, thus encouraging expansion of cropland and adoption of techniques to increase productivity. Brazilian agricultural production and exports, which are poised to continue flourishing over the next decade, according to the USDA Agricultural Projections to 2029 report, could grow even faster under accelerated currency depreciation. Simulations show that if the BRL weakens more than previously expected, exports of major commodities could be an aggregate 5.6 percent greater than previously projected, with Brazil’s exports increasing for each major commodity except beef and soybean meal. This chart is drawn from Economic Research Service (ERS) report, Brazil’s Agricultural Competitiveness: Recent Growth and Future Impacts Under Currency Depreciation and Changing Macroeconomic Conditions, and was highlighted in the ERS October issue of Amber Waves, in the feature article, “Brazil’s Currency Depreciation and Changing Macroeconomic Conditions Determine Agricultural Competitiveness and Future Growth.”
Monday, August 31, 2020
Errata: On September 4, 2020, this chart was reposted to correct a unit error in the y-axis label.
Over the last quarter century, the United States has become one of the largest agricultural importers in the world. During this time, imports have grown significantly from $27 billion in 1994 to $128 billion in 2019. The role of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994—superseded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in July 2020—has played a central role in this surge, with U.S. imports from the North American region increasing more than six-fold from $8.2 billion in 1994 to $52 billion in 2019. The volume of imports from all regions has risen across all commodities, but consumer-oriented products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beef products, and wine and beer products have led the increase. Even as overall imports have grown, imports from Europe, as well as South America and the Caribbean, have dipped, reflecting the decreasing share of berries and other fruits provided by these countries, as well as additional sources of alcoholic beverages imported from USMCA trading partners. These charts are drawn from the Economic Research Service product, U.S. Agricultural Trade at a Glance.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
The United States is the world’s second largest agricultural trader after the European Union. U.S. agricultural exports have grown significantly over the last quarter century, from $46.1 billion in 1994 to $136.7 billion in 2019. The elimination of agricultural trade barriers as a result of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—superseded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in July 2020—nearly quadrupled exports (by value) to Canada and Mexico. Coinciding with policy developments, rising household incomes and changing trade policies in developing East and Southeast Asia have driven export growth, especially for China, whose share of U.S. agricultural exports more than quadrupled from 3 percent during 1994-2000 to 14 percent during 2010-19. Meanwhile, there has been a sharp decline in the share going to Europe and high-income East Asia, particularly Japan. These charts are drawn from the Economic Research Service product, U.S. Agricultural Trade at a Glance.
Friday, July 17, 2020
U.S. agricultural exports to China are projected to total $13.0 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2020, up from $10.1 billion in FY 2019. This rise in expected exports is primarily due to growth in Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans and pork with expected additional purchases of sorghum and cotton also playing a role. This growth, much of which is expected as a result of relaxed barriers in the U.S.-China trade partnership, is projected to prevail in FY 2020 even considering the fiscal strains brought on by COVID-19. Portions of China’s economy are anticipated to continue growing while its economy as a whole is still being negatively affected by the global slowdown, especially with respect to international trade. Even amidst the negative economic effects of COVID-19 on China’s consumption of U.S. agricultural goods, China’s purchases of U.S. pork, soybeans, cotton, and other products rose in the first half of FY 2020. At this pace, U.S. exports to China are expected to increase by $2.9 billion from FY 2019, when the value of U.S. exports to China had fallen to $9.3 billion (in 2019 dollars)—its lowest point since FY 2009. This chart was drawn from the Economic Research Service’s most recent Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, published in May 2020.
Monday, March 9, 2020
Sugar production in the United States and globally is dependent upon two crops: sugarbeets, grown in higher, typically colder latitudes; and sugarcane, which grows in lower, typically more tropical latitudes. Poor weather conditions have diminished the production outlook for both the U.S. sugarbeet crop—particularly in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana—and the sugarcane crop, especially in Louisiana. Sugar output is also expected to be significantly lower for 2019/20 in Mexico—the United States’ largest foreign sugar supplier—as drought conditions in several key sugarcane-producing regions are expected to reduce output considerably. The combined 2019/20 U.S. and Mexican sugar production is projected to be 9.7 percent below that in 2018/19, the lowest collective output since 2011/12. The reduced supply expectations are the main reason why the U.S. sugar market is forecast to be at its tightest since 2010/11, and why current U.S. wholesale refined sugar prices are 19 percent higher for cane sugar and 26 percent higher for beet sugar compared with a year ago. This chart is based on information in the Economic Research Service Sugar and Sweeteners Monthly Outlook Report and the Sugar and Sweetener Yearbook Tables.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
China is the world’s largest importer of soybeans and represented 65 percent of global soybean imports in 2017. Soybeans are the most prominent agricultural commodity exported to China by both the United States and Brazil. During 2017, prior to the Chinese government’s implementation of tariffs on U.S. soybeans, exports of soybeans were valued at $12.3 billion and accounted for 63 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to China. Conversely, soybeans accounted for less than 20 percent of U.S. agricultural exports to other regions. For example, U.S. soybean exports to Southeast Asia—the second-largest destination—were valued at $1.95 billion but accounted for 17 percent of agricultural exports to that region. The share of soybeans in U.S. agricultural exports was 14 percent for the European Union, 10 percent for the Middle East and North Africa, and 7 percent for other East Asian countries. The share of soybeans in Brazil’s agricultural exports to China was larger. During 2017, $20.3 billion of soybean exports accounted for nearly 88 percent of Brazil’s agricultural exports to China. Soybeans accounted for 14 percent of Brazil’s agricultural exports to the European Union—the second largest destination for Brazil’s soybeans. This chart appears in the ERS report, “Interdependence of China, United States, and Brazil in Soybean Trade,” released in June 2019.