While U.S. exports were flat in 2016, U.S. imports of fresh fruits and vegetables growth hit double-digit rates.
Imports of fresh fruits were up 10 percent, amounting to $12.4 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while the value of imports of fresh vegetables rose 14 percent to $8 billion. Last year, Mexico supplied 70 percent of the total U.S. vegetable imports and 31 percent of all U.S. fruit imports, according to the USDA. Chile supplied 17 percent of U.S. fruit imports in 2016. Canada was a major supplier of fresh vegetables, with 16 percent of all U.S. fresh vegetable imports in 2016.
In 2016, U.S. exports of fresh fruits were unchanged from 2015 at $4.5 billion, according to the USDA. U.S. exports of fresh vegetables rose 2percent to $2.4 billion in 2016. Canada purchased 75 percent of U.S. vegetable exports and 36 percent of U.S. fruit exports in 2016; Mexico purchased 11 percent of U.S. fruit exports and 4 percent of U.S. vegetable exports, according to USDA statistics.
The USDA reported the top U.S. imported fresh produce item for 2016 was bananas, at a value of $2.67 billion, up 1 percent from 2015. Ranking second, were fresh tomato imports that totaled $2.26 billion in 2016, up 17 percent from the previous year.
Berry imports in 2016 (excluding strawberries) hit $2.05 billion, up 11 percent from 2015.
U.S. avocado imports also rose sharply in 2016, totaling $1.91 billion, up 18 percent from 2015.
Other leading produce imported commodities for 2016 were:
grapes: $1.5 billion, up 12 percent;
peppers: $1.46 billion, up 20 percent;
citrus: $937 million, up 9 percent;
fresh/frozen strawberries: $745 million, up 22 percent;
melons: $710 million, up 16 percent;
cucumbers: $690 million, up 12 percent:
fresh/frozen pineapples: $668 million, up 3 percent; and
asparagus: $630 million, up 12 percent.
The top U.S. export commodity for 2016 was apples, according to the USDA. Exports of fresh apples totaled $921 million in 2016, off 10 percent compared with the previous year.
The number two export item was grapes, with 2016 value of $785 million, up 5percent compared with 2015.
Other top U.S. fresh produce exports in 2016 were:
oranges and tangerines: $700 million, up 13 percent;