Chilean Fruit Imports, Plus a Larger View of Produce Imports/Exports

Chilean Fruit Imports, Plus a Larger View of  Produce Imports/Exports

DSCN4931Chilean grape loadings should be up, while Chilean avocado loadings should be down this season at U.S. ports.  On a larger scale, U.S. imports and exports of fresh produce are increasing.

The first Chilean grape shipments were launched last week and should arrive by boat at Philadelphia in time for distribution prior to Christmas.  Last season Chile exported about 10 million cartons of grapes to the United States.  This season the initial report pegged the season total to be in the 11 million to 11.5 million carton range.

Chile’s avocado export volumes could take a tumble this season, in part due to the ongoing drought.  As a result the country may  only ship half the amount of fruit it did last season, or potentially just over a third.

The drought is drastically affecting avocados, mainly in the Valparaiso region where about 75 percent of national production is located.

Looking beyond just imports from Chile, the USDA predicts fresh produce imports will outpace exports.   U.S. fresh produce exports will reach $7.9 billion in fiscal year 2015.

Strong exports of fresh fruits and vegetables will help total U.S. horticultural exports reach record levels.  At $7.9 billion, fresh fruit and vegetable exports for fiscal year 2015 (October 2014 through September 2015) are forecast 6.4 percent ahead of fiscal year 2014’s total of $7.42 billion.  The U.S. exported $600 million in fresh berries to Canada in FY 2014, representing the biggest commodity export value to any country.  U.S. berry exports to Canada were 2 percent down from 2013 but 5 percent above 2012. U.S. exports of lettuce to Canada topped $400 million, and both grapes and apples tallied more than $200 million in export sales to Canada. The top export to Mexico was apples at $257 million, down about 25 percent compared with 2013.

The USDA is projecting even stronger growth for U.S. imports of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Fresh fruit imports in FY 2015 will total $10.3 billion, 8.9 percent higher than 2014 and 23 percent above fiscal year 2013.  Fresh vegetable imports are forecast at $7.1 billion in 2015, 7 percent above FY 2014 and 8 percent above fiscal year 2013.

The top imported fresh commodity in 2014 was Mexican tomatoes at $1.6 billion, 1 percent above 2013.  U.S. imports of Mexican avocados surged in value in 2014, rising from $920 million to $1.23 billion.

Mexican tomatoes and other vegetables crossing at Nogales, AZ – grossing about $6800 to New York City.
Mexican avocados and other tropical fruit, plus Rio Grande Valley, Tx citrus – grossing about $2800 to Chicago.