U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable imports outpace exports - The Packer

U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable imports outpace exports

06/07/2012 10:37:00 AM
Tom Karst

Fruit and vegetable imports are creating a tide of red ink on the U.S. trade balance sheet.

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture trade forecast projects fresh fruit and vegetable imports at $13.6 billion for fiscal year 2012, up from $12.8 billion the previous year.

The USDA forecasts fruit and vegetable exports at $6.9 billion for fiscal year 2012 (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), up from $6.64 billion a year ago.

If the USDA forecasts are accurate, the trade deficit for fresh fruits and vegetables will be $6.7 billion for fiscal 2012, up from $6.2 billion for 2011.

USDA statistics show leading fresh produce imports items by value in calendar year 2011 included tomatoes ($2.13 billion), bananas ($1.98 billion), grapes ($1.03 billion), berries ($1.02 billion) and peppers ($933 million).

Top U.S. exports of fresh fruits and vegetables in 2011 included apples ($942 million), oranges and tangerines ($718 million), berries ($647 million), lettuce ($465 million) and grapefruit ($178 million).

For all agricultural exports — including meat, grains and other products — the U.S. is still projected to enjoy a $27 billion trade surplus for fiscal year 2012, but that is down from the record $42.9 billion surplus in fiscal year 2011.

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Vance Tennyson    
Phoenix, AZ  |  June, 08, 2012 at 11:20 AM

We want our fresh fruits and vegetables 12 months out of the year. Therefore, grocery stores must buy produce from distributors who import product from foreign companies. At the same time, the American public cries that they are being poisoned by American farmers using pesticides so we implement laws that make producing these crops cost prohibitive. We sell valuable farm land and build crappy houses no one can afford. So a large part of the blame lies with the consumer. But considering that all fruits and vegetables are seasonal because of growing conditions required, what's a company to do? The only real loser here is the American farmer. Buy local!

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