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Imports are over half of US fresh fruit and a third of US fresh vegetables

March 17, 2020

Over half of the fresh fruit available to US consumers, 57 percent in 2018, was imported, as were 32 percent of the fresh vegetables.

Three-fourths of the 115 pounds of fresh fruit available per person involve seven items: 28 pounds of bananas, 17 pounds of fresh apples, and eight pounds each of fresh avocados, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries.

Imports accounted for 100 percent of the bananas and pineapples available to Americans, and 87 percent of the avocados. Imports were almost half of the fresh grapes available, 20 percent of the oranges, 15 percent of the strawberries, and six percent of fresh apples.

Americans consume 25 pounds of melons a year, including 16 pounds of watermelon and seven pounds of cantaloupes. A third of the melons available to Americans are imported.

Americans consume an average 156 pounds of fresh and processed vegetables each year, led by 48 pounds or a third potatoes and 29 pounds of tomatoes. Most of the potatoes and tomatoes consumed by Americans are processed rather than fresh.

Most of the other major vegetables, including onions, lettuce, and carrots, are consumed fresh. Almost 32 percent of fresh vegetables were imported in 2018, more than double the 13 percent import share in 2000.

The US has an agricultural trade surplus, exporting farm commodities worth $143 billion in 2019 while importing farm commodities worth $131 billion. However, the US has a trade deficit in fresh fruits and vegetables, with exports of $7 billion in 2019, a third of the $21 billion worth of fresh fruit and vegetables that were imported. The trade deficit in fresh fruits and vegetables is expected to increase as exports remain stable while imports increase to $35 billion by 2029.

Most apples and oranges are processed into juice, while most bananas, strawberries, and watermelons are consumed fresh

Source: ERS

All fresh bananas and pineapples are imported, but few fresh apples are imported

Over half of the potatoes and tomatoes consumed in the US are processed

Source: ERS

The share of US fresh vegetables that are imported doubled between 2000 and 2018

The US has a trade deficit in fresh fruits and vegetables that is expected to increase over the next decade

Mexico supplies about half of fresh fruit imports, led by avocados, and three fourths of the fresh vegetable imports, led by tomatoes