ERS Charts of Note
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Thursday, September 7, 2023
The United States imported $26.6 billion in alcoholic beverages in 2022. Total U.S. imports of distilled spirits, beer, and wine accounted for 14 percent of all U.S. agricultural imports. Distilled spirits were the largest and fastest growing segment of these products, accounting for almost half—$12 billion—of U.S. alcohol imports. Tequila from Mexico led the growth among distilled spirits, while imports of products such as whiskey and vodka, which traditionally are higher, decreased. Adjusting for inflation, between 2014 and 2019, tequila imports increased from $1.1 billion to $4.9 billion. While the United States is the largest market for Mexico’s tequila, international demand, especially in Europe, also has been strong. Drought in key agave-growing regions as well as a less favorable currency exchange rate have led to a reduced U.S. forecast for distilled spirit imports in 2023 and 2024. In 2022, total U.S. beer import values reached $6.7 billion, and wine imports reached $7.8 billion, both of which are expected to cool in 2023 and into 2024. The United States also exported $3.9 billion of alcoholic beverages in 2022. U.S. exports of distilled spirits, largely bourbon, have grown, while wine and beer exports have remained flat. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service in August 2023.
Monday, July 31, 2023
Imports play a vital and increasingly important role in ensuring that fresh fruit and vegetables are available year-round in the United States. Since the 2008 completion of the transition to tariff- and quota-free trade among Mexico, Canada, and the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable imports have increased with few interruptions. Between 2007 and 2021, the percent of U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable availability supplied by imports grew from 50 to 60 percent for fresh fruit and from 20 to 38 percent for fresh vegetables (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms). The import share increased by more than 20 percentage points during this period for 10 crops: asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, raspberries, snap beans, and tomatoes. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), implemented on July 1, 2020, continues NAFTA’s market access provisions for fruit and vegetables. In 2022, Mexico and Canada supplied 51 percent and 2 percent, respectively, of U.S. fresh fruit imports, and 69 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of U.S. fresh vegetable imports in terms of value. This chart is drawn using data from the USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) data products Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook Data and Vegetables and Pulses Yearbook Data. Also refer to the ERS report, Changes in U.S. Agricultural Imports from Latin America and the Caribbean, published in July 2023, and ERS’s Amber Waves feature, U.S. Fresh Vegetable Imports From Mexico and Canada Continue To Surge, published in November 2021.
Thursday, June 29, 2023
The United States imports vast quantities of vegetable oils for a wide array of end uses—from cooking oils to plastics. From fiscal years 2013 to 2020, imports ranged from total inflation-adjusted values of $6.3 billion (2019) to $7.4 billion (2017). In 2021, imports exceeded $8.0 billion before surging to $10.9 billion in 2022. Much of the increased demand in 2022 came from expanded production of biodiesel and renewable diesel—agriculturally based transportation fuels that often use vegetable oils as feedstocks. Production of these biofuels grew from 1.5 billion gallons in 2013 to 3.1 billion gallons in 2022. While biofuels and other industrial processes have increased demand for vegetable oils, imported vegetable oils are mostly used for food, with 70 percent of canola, 85 percent of palm, and 100 percent of olive oil consumed as food. These oils comprised the top three imports in 2022 led by canola oil at $3.6 billion, palm oil at $2.2 billion, and olive oil at $1.7 billion. U.S. vegetable oil imports originate from a few major suppliers. In 2022, 96 percent of canola oil imports came from Canada, 82 percent of palm oil came from Indonesia, and 78 percent of olive oil came from the European Union. USDA forecasts vegetable oil imports at $11 billion in fiscal year 2023. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, May 2023.
Thursday, June 8, 2023
In 2022, the United States exported more than 450,000 metric tons of cheese, valued at approximately $2.3 billion. Top export markets include Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Canada. U.S. cheese is a mainstay among imported cheeses in these countries. In 2022, U.S. cheese accounted for nearly one-fifth of cheese imported by Canada and Japan by value and nearly one-fourth of cheese imported by Australia. More than 43 percent of cheese shipped to South Korea originated from the United States. U.S. cheese dominates the import market in Mexico, with 87 percent of Mexico’s cheese imports coming from the United States in 2022. All together, these five countries have accounted for nearly two-thirds of U.S. cheese exports since 2019, and U.S. cheese constitutes about a third of the value of all cheese imported by these five markets combined. Free trade agreements have partially supported U.S. cheese exports to each of these markets, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), and the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, U.S. Trade Performance and Position in Global Meat, Poultry, and Dairy Exports, April 2023.
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Fresh-cut flowers and plants are popular gifts for special occasions such as birthdays and Mother’s Day. Many bouquets contain flowers grown in countries where cool, wet climates have historically favored production. In fiscal year 2022, the United States imported nearly $3.3 billion worth of cut flowers, plants, and nursery stock products from 81 countries. Imports of fresh-cut roses totaled more than $800 million, while other fresh-cut flowers such as chrysanthemums, carnations, and lilies were valued at a combined $1.1 billion. Live plant imports were valued at nearly $860 million, and imports of other nursery stock products such as bulbs and greenery were valued at $492 million. Of the many countries supplying flowers and other nursery stock, Colombia made up the largest import value at $1.2 billion. From 2018 to 2022, Colombia provided about 37 percent of U.S. cut flower and nursery stock value. Other leading suppliers in 2022 included Canada, Ecuador, and the European Union, as well as smaller supplying countries of Mexico, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, February 2023.
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
The United Kingdom (U.K.) is the world’s fifth-largest importer of agricultural and related goods and a large market for U.S. products. The U.K. imported $78.2 billion in agricultural and related goods in 2021 and exported $31.9 billion, less than half the value of imports. Historically, the European Union has been the largest trading partner with the U.K., but the U.K.’s formal departure from the European single market, known as “Brexit,” will likely impact the UK’s trade dynamics as the country seeks to diversify trading partners. An estimated two-thirds of agricultural goods imported by the U.K. in 2021 were high-value, consumer-oriented products, such as distilled spirits, dairy products, and processed seafood products. Imports of agricultural-related products, namely forest products (primarily wood pellets used for power generation), have reached double-digit growth in recent years. Forest products were the largest single commodity group imported into the U.K. from the global market in 2021 at $9.66 billion, with the United States the top country-level supplier at $1.33 billion. The United States also exported about $1.12 million in alcoholic beverages to the U.K. in 2021. On the other side of trade, the U.K. is a top supplier of alcoholic beverages (primarily distilled spirits) to the United States, although its share has given way to larger, more efficient producers such as France in recent years. Agreements between the U.K. and the United States in 2022 to allow for the export of British beef and lamb to the United States for the first time since the 1990s are expected to generate $50 million in trade over the next 5 years based on British estimates. This chart is drawn from the USDA, Economic Research Service report, United Kingdom Agricultural Production and Trade Policy Post-Brexit, February 2023.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
With a total value of $28 billion, Mexico is projected to be the United States’ second largest destination for U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2022 (October–September), after China. Between FY 2018 and 2022, Mexico’s share of all U.S. agricultural exports rose from just under 13 percent to about 14 percent and is forecast to reach 15 percent in FY 2023. Mexico’s share of U.S. exports varies by product. On average, Mexico purchased $6.5 billion in U.S. grains and feeds per year from FY 2018 to 2022, accounting for 18 percent of the largest export commodity group. Demand for grains and feed has been spurred by the expansion of Mexico’s cattle industry and growing consumption of animal products. Between FY 2018 and 2022, Mexico’s imports of livestock, poultry, and dairy products represented an average of 18 percent of total U.S. exports and accounted for $6.3 billion in sales. In recent years, Mexico’s imports of U.S. dairy and poultry have been particularly strong, with demand for nonfat dry milk and chicken cuts driving Mexico’s import share as high as 24 percent. Bilateral trade between Mexico and the United States is facilitated by relatively low transportation costs as well as trade advantages afforded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. These factors, as well as sustained demand, are expected to continue fueling growth in U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico through FY 2023. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, February 2023.
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
About half of all wheat grown in the United States is exported, and geography largely determines the mode of transportation to ports. U.S. wheat production is heavily concentrated in the Great Plains and Northern Plains regions, which include Oklahoma, Kansas, South and North Dakota, and Montana. Wheat is also grown in the Midwest, parts of the Southeast, and the Pacific Northwest (PNW) regions, as well as California. The inland waterways of the Mississippi River and the Columbia-Snake River system enable exporters of soft red winter wheat and white wheat to use transportation by barge to move wheat to export facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and the PNW, respectively. In contrast, rail transportation dominates in the vast wheat-producing areas west of the Mississippi and east of the PNW. In this region, the long distances to ports and a lack of navigable waterways make freight transportation by truck or barge difficult or impossible. Producers of hard red spring wheat, which is primarily grown in the Northern Plains, are served by rail lines that run to Washington State and Oregon, providing easy access to ocean vessels that can transport wheat to markets in Asia and the rest of the world. Similarly, hard red winter (HRW) wheat production areas in the Central and Southern Plains are directly connected by rail to Mexico, the top import market for HRW. It is also shipped by rail from the Plains to export terminals in the Gulf of Mexico. From 2014 to 2019, about 50 to 60 percent of wheat exports were transported to port by rail. This chart first appeared in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s Wheat Outlook, published in December 2022.
Wednesday, January 18, 2023
The value of U.S. agricultural imports (adjusted for inflation) grew an average of 4 percent a year between fiscal years 2012 and 2022 (October to September). Over that time, total U.S. agricultural imports rose from $139 billion to $194 billion, with growth concentrated in select commodity groups. Horticultural products grew at a rate of 6 percent a year during the period and, at $97.2 billion in value in 2022, accounted for 65 percent of the total growth in imports. Within the broad horticultural products group, fresh fruits were the largest contributor at $17.9 billion, growing at an annual rate of 9 percent over the period and accounting for 15 percent of total import growth. Key commodities in the fresh fruit group include avocados, berries, and citrus, which the United States imports mostly from Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Peru. Growth in demand for horticultural products, including fresh fruits, largely has been driven by consumer desire for year-round supply, changing consumer preferences, and foreign production that is increasingly competitive with domestically grown produce. Imports of the commodity groups livestock and meats, grains and feeds, and oilseeds and products, which together were about 60 percent of the value of horticultural product imports in 2012, each also grew at about 6 percent per year, contributing to a total of about 40 percent of the growth from 2012 to 2022. Sugar and tropical products, dairy and products, and other categories had below average growth rates and contributed less to agricultural import growth. This chart is drawn from the Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade published by USDA’s Economic Research Service, November 2022.
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.