Although the pace of imports is expected to slow somewhat, the USDA said the 2011 U.S. trade deficit of $6.2 billion in fresh produce will swell to $10.7 billion in 2021.
In a report on agricultural projections to 2021 — released at the start of the Feb. 23-24 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum — the USDA said that per capita use of fruits and tree nuts will increase at annual average growth rate of 0.2% during the next 10 years, while per capita use of vegetables will increase at an annual growth rate of 0.5% through 2021.
The agency said the value of U.S. farm sales of fruit and tree nuts is projected to grow an annual rate of 2% during the next decade, while sales of vegetables and melons will increase 1.6%.
The report included an array of long-term predictions about fruit, vegetable and nut production, trade and per capita use trends.
The agency said the value of U.S. horticultural imports is projected to increase 4.9% annually during the next decade, cooling down somewhat compared with the 8% annual growth in imports from 2001-11.
By 2021, the agency said imports are projected to supply 45% of U.S. domestic fruits and nuts and 25% of vegetables.
In 2011, imports accounted for 40% of fruit and nut use and 21% of U.S. vegetables use, by farm weight.
Exports will continue to play a big role for U.S. growers, according to the report. By 2021, the agency said exports will be the destination for 26% of U.S. fruit and nut production, up from 24% in 2011.
Meanwhile, the USDA said that about 14% of vegetables will sold to international buyers in 2021, up slightly from 2011.
Other long-term projections by the USDA:
- The volume of U.S. farm production of vegetables and melons is projected to grow 1% annually, reaching 146 billion pounds in 2021;
- The volume of U.S. fruit and nut production will grow by 0.3% per year, to 66 billion pounds in 2021;
- Grower prices for vegetables are projected to rise at 0.6% per year;
- Grower prices for fruits will increase 1.5% per year because of slower production growth;
- Per capita use of fruits and tree nuts will increase from 269 pounds in 2011 to 274 pounds in 2021;
- Per capita use of vegetables will grow from 417 pounds in 2011 to 439 pounds in 2021; and
- Total supply of fruits, nuts and vegetables, including import and domestic supply, is projected to grow at an annual average rate of 1.3%.