Imports of fruits and vegetables are an increasingly important part of the overall U.S. fresh produce supply picture, and new U.S. Department of Agriculture projections indicate the trend will continue through the next decade.
In projections that extend to 2022, the USDA projects that imports will account for 52% of fruit and nuts in the country in ten years, up from 44% in 2012. The report estimates that vegetable imports will provide 24% of the total category in the country by 2022, up from 19% in 2012.
Expected to grow at 0.3% per year, U.S. per-capita use of fruits and tree nuts will rise from 287 pounds in 2012 to 295 pounds by 2022, according to the report.
However, the rate of growth of imports is slowing, according to the USDA.
The estimated rate of increase in fruit, vegetable and nut imports won’t match the pace of the last decade. Compared with 8% average annual growth in the last decade, the report said U.S. horticultural imports in the next ten years are projected to grow by 4.5% annually, reaching about $65 billion in 2022.
Export sales of U.S. fruits and vegetables also will become more important for U.S. producers, according to the USDA report. By 2022, the report said exports are projected to be the destination for 27% of U.S. fruit and nut production, up from 23% in 2012. The USDA report said 21% percent of U.S. vegetable production will be exported in 2022, from 16% in 2012.
Eports of U.S. horticultural products are projected to reach $42.4 billion in fiscal year 2022, of which fruit and nuts will contribute $20.8 billion and vegetables will contribute $8.2 billion.
The U.S. trade deficit for horticultural crops and products is projected to almost double from $12.4 billion in fiscal year 2012 to $22.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, according to the USDA.