The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that the import share of the U.S. fresh vegetable supply continues to rise.
This is no shocker, though, as the USDA says the import share of the U.S. fresh vegetable supply has increased for the 15th consecutive year.
According to the latest data, imports accounted or about 31.83% of the total fresh vegetable supply in 2018, up from 29.34% in 2017 and 24.39% in 2010.
The vegetable commodity with the highest import share was asparagus, with 98.76% accounted for by imports in 2018. That compares with 95.44% in 2017 and 89.13% in 2010.
More than 60% of the U.S. fresh tomato supply in 2018 was imported, up from 59.28% in 2017 and 53.07% in 2010.
The lowest share of imports for a fresh vegetable commodity was held by spinach, with imports accounting for just 3.37% supply in 2018.
The rising share of imports does illustrate the tough competitive position for U.S. growers, particularly for labor-intensive crops like asparagus. The import share of head lettuce (5%) and leaf lettuce (10%) are still relatively low, though both broccoli and cauliflower now have 20% of supply from imports.
Unless mechanization makes rapid gains in the next decade, the import share of fresh vegetable supply will continue to creep higher.