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Retaliatory trade tariffs continue to hurt U.S. fruit exports.

Updated trade statistics show that total U.S. exports of fresh fruit dropped 8% from September 2018 to August. U.S. exports of fresh vegetables rose 7% in the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

The numbers appear to confirm the stinging combined effect of retaliatory and standard tariffs of 50% or more applied by China and India over the past year. U.S. fresh fruit exports to China are off by more than one-third, while shipments to India are down 65% compared with the previous year.

Exports lag

Total U.S. fresh fruit exports totaled $4.33 billion from September 2018 to August, off 8% from $4.71 billion for the same period a year ago and the lowest total in the past five years.

The top destination for U.S. fruit exports, with comparisons to the same period last year:


U.S. fresh vegetable exports are dominated by trade to Canada, which takes about 75% of all fresh vegetable exports. September 2018 to August U.S. fresh vegetable exports to Canada were $2.01 billion, up 10% compared with year ago numbers.

Imports tally steady growth

U.S. imports of fresh and frozen fruits and fresh vegetables were both up September 2018 through August compared with the previous year, according to the USDA.

U.S. imports of fresh/frozen fruits rose 5% and fresh vegetable imports climbed 6%.

Mexico accounts for about 70% of total U.S. fresh vegetable imports of $8.88 billion. From September 2018 through August, Mexico fresh vegetable exports to the U.S. were $6.2 billion, up 7% up from a year ago. At $1.57 billion, U.S. imports of Canadian fresh vegetables were 5% above year-ago levels.

Mexico also accounts for the largest share of U.S. fresh/frozen fruit imports, with a 48% share. U.S. imports of Mexican fresh and frozen fruit were $7.04 billion, up 10% from year-ago levels.

Top U.S. import sources of fresh/frozen fruit from September 2018 to August, compared with a year ago:


Balance of trade

Total U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables totaled $23.4 billion for the September to August period, compared to U.S. exports of fresh fruits and vegetables of $7 billion for the same period. That equates to a trade deficit of about $13.4 billion for the period.

For all U.S. agriculture exports, the U.S. still has a trade surplus, according to the USDA. Exports of $11.2 billion compares with imports of $10.46 billion, leaving a trade surplus of $812 million.


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