USDA predicts exports to hit record levelsContinuing strong export sales of U.S. fresh fruits and vegetables to Canada and Mexico will help boost 2014-15 horticultural exports to record levels, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture report predicts.

The report  said the fiscal 2015 (October 2014 to September 2015) export forecast for U.S. horticultural products is a record $37 billion, up $2.9 billion from 2014. Fresh fruit and vegetables are forecast at a record $7.9 billion, up $200 million from 2014.

The USDA said in the forecast that fresh fruit and vegetable exports to Canada and Mexico are expected to continue expanding.

USDA statistics show that berries are the top U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable commodity shipped to Canada, with sales in 2013 tallying $613 million, up from $591 million in 2012 and $541 million in 2011. Lettuce, grapes, apples and other vegetables are also top U.S. fresh export commodities to Canada, according to the USDA.

Apples are the leading fresh produce item shipped to Mexico, with sales in 2013 pegged at $332 million, up from $284 million in 2012 and $199 million in 2011. Pears, grapes and potatoes also rate high in export sales to Mexico.

The USDA said world economic growth is forecast to accelerate next year, rising from 2.7 % to 3.1% in 2015. Global trade is expected to expand by 4.2% in 2014 and 5.5% in 2015, driven by faster economic growth in North America and recovery in Europe. The economies of the U.S., Mexico and Canada are expected to grow 3.4% in 2015, according to the USDA projection.

A stable, but weak dollar and relatively low energy costs suggest a promising outlook for U.S. exporters in 2014 and 2015, according to the USDA.