U.S. fresh produce changes shape, direction

03/01/2013 09:46:00 AM
John Giles

John Giles, Promar InternationalJohn Giles, Promar InternationalOver the past 10 years, the U.S. fresh produce industry has seen a significant change in terms of the volumes produced and the direction of international trade. This has been driven by a combination of factors, not least emerging competition in terms of supply, as well as opportunities in a range of developing markets around the world.

Struggling to keep pace

In the apple industry, whereas world production has grown by just over 20% in a 10-year period from 62.8 million to 76 million tons, U.S. production has actually gone backward, from 5 million to 4.6 million tons.

In other key countries, production has continued to surge ahead. China has seen an increase by some 60% from 22 million to 36 million tons, India by some 70%, Poland by another 28%, Chile by around 36%, Brazil by 10% and Argentina by 26%. South Africa has seen production increase over 10 years by around 26%.

In the grape sector, fresh production has increased from 11 million to 19.8 million tons. U.S. production has fallen by around 3% at a level of 7.4 million tons, whereas there have been significant increases in China, Chile, Brazil and in a number of countries of the former Soviet Union, and Peru and parts of North Africa.

Cherry production bucks the trend for the U.S. and globally has seen an increase from 1.9 million tons to just over 2.2 million tons — around 16%. The U.S. share has increased from 204,000 to almost 314,000 tons — some 53%. There have also been significant increases in other regions of the world such as Turkey, Chile, India, and, again, parts of the former Soviet Union, but with consistent drops in overall production in key European Union countries.

A change of direction

When it comes to U.S. exports, again there have been significant changes in the volume and direction of trade over the past 10 years. While the Mexican and Canadian markets are still hugely significant for apples (accounting for 38% between them), U.S. exports to other markets such as India (up by a massive 77,000 tons), China (up by 21,000 tons) Indonesia (up by 27,500 tons) and Vietnam (up by 12,000 tons), along with a plethora of other emerging markets, have all accounted for an increasing share of overall exports.

U.S. exports of grapes have also increased by around 77,000 tons per year over a 10-year period. These have been spearheaded by significant increases to the likes of Indonesia, Australia, Mexico, Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam, as well as building trade in other parts of the world such as Central America, the Middle East and Russia.


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