U.S. growers will export a record $6.2 billion worth of fresh fruits and vegetables next year, up 5.1% from this year, on increasing demand from Canada, Japan and the European Union, according to a government report.
Fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Canada and Japan, and to a lesser extent the EU, “should continue to expand” as the world’s economies recover from recession, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.
Total U.S. horticultural exports in fiscal 2011, which begins Oct. 1, are also expected to hit an all-time high, climbing 7.5% from 2010 to $24.5 billion, according to the USDA.
Foreign markets for U.S. grain, meat, fruit and vegetable growers will continue to grow next year as Asia leads a global economic recovery, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a conference call after the release of the report.
“You’re seeing greater acceptance of the American brand in agriculture in 2010, and you’ll continue to see that in 2011,” Vilsack said. “We’re going to see more and more opportunities.”
The USDA’s export forecast follows Mexico’s decision earlier in August to expand a list of U.S. products subject to tariffs, as a trade dispute between the countries escalated.
Starting Aug. 18, Mexico assessed U.S. apples, grapefruit and oranges a 20% tariff, adding those to a list that now includes about a dozen fresh produce items. U.S. apricots, cabbage, cherries, grapes, pears, peas, potatoes and strawberries were already subject to tariffs, which Mexico initially imposed in March 2009.
The tariffs, stemming from the cancellation of a program allowing Mexican truck drivers to operate north of the border, have already cost U.S. growers business in one of their biggest markets, industry representatives have said.
Vilsack, during the Aug. 31 conference call, said there is an “ongoing effort” with Mexico’s government to resolve the dispute “as soon as possible,” citing recent discussions with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
“I can’t give you a specific time frame, but we’re working on this every day,” Vilsack said.
Overall, U.S. agricultural exports for 2011 are projected to rise 5.1% to $113 billion, the second-highest on record, as pork and poultry demand grows and Russia’s drought leads to stepped-up purchases of American grain, the USDA said.