Importing Our Produce

The Lempert Report
August 18, 2014

Imported fruits and vegetables account for an ever increasing share of U.S. consumption.

According to a recent report from the USDA, imported fruits and vegetables account for an ever increasing share of U.S. consumption and in most cases, U.S. imports are sourced from just a few supplying countries. 

According to the data, since 1990, consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables was steady, while the share of imports of fresh fruit rose from 12 to 34 percent and the import share for vegetables rose from 10 to 25 percent. Such imports has attributed to US diets, by making produce available outside the traditional U.S. growing season, as well as providing access to a greater variety. 

Despite the large share of imported produce, they only come from a select few countries. So who are these countries? A recent article from  USDA's Economic Research Service, notes that between 2006 and 2011, over 90 percent of strawberry, artichoke, peach, corn, and grape imports were supplied by either Mexico or Chile. Pineapples, asparagus, and pear imports were dominated by Costa Rica, Peru, and Argentina. And, because supplies are typically seasonal, these figures may understate the degree of source country concentration in any moment. For instance, Peruvian asparagus accounts for nearly the entire U.S. supply of asparagus between August and December, its prime importation period.

For the full report check out USDA dot GOV.