U.S. exports of horticultural products to all countries in November reached $927.6 million, up 6 percent from the same month a year earlier. Ten out of 15 categories of horticultural exports registered increases. Categories with the most significant increases in November were canned vegetables (up $8.0 million or 15 percent); fresh vegetables (up $7.7 million or 10 percent); frozen vegetables (up $4.0 million or 12 percent); wine (up $3.9 million or 18 percent); and miscellaneous products (up $35.4 million or 18 percent). The categories with the most significant decreases were tree nuts (down $3.2 million or 3 percent); canned fruit (down $3.1 million or 16 percent); and hops and products (down $2.7 million or 20 percent). During the first 2 months (October-November) of fiscal year (FY) 1997, the total value of U.S. horticultural exports was $2.0 billion -- 9 percent above the same period last year.
Avocado exports by selected countries are forecast to increase by 2 percent in 1996/97. Export increases by Chile, Israel, South Africa, and the United States will likely more than offset reduced shipments from Mexico and Spain. Israel, the world's largest avocado exporter, is forecast to increase exports by 12 percent. Chile's exports are forecast to increase by 24 percent as that country is trying to diversify its markets in Argentina and Europe. Depending on the size of the domestic crop, opportunities for U.S. avocado exports in 1996/97 to Europe, Canada, and Asia could also improve because of lower exports from Mexico.
U.S. brandy exports in 1996 are estimated at 2.4 million proof liters, down 14 percent from the 1995 volume. High tariffs and excise taxes coupled with a recession in Japan decreased U.S. exports to this market. As progress is made under the Uruguay Round to reduce trade barriers in countries like Japan, and the EU phases out its distillation program, the U.S. brandy industry should be in a strategic position to capitalize on a $6.6 billion world brandy market. During 1982-1992, the European Union (EU) produced an average of 24 million proof hectoliters of excess wine. In order to help support EU wine producers in the face of high carry over stocks, the EU implemented a distillation program to convert the excess EU wine into brandy and alcohol. Some of the excess wine was converted to brandy. The result of the distillation program was the production of inexpensive brandy flowing into the world market. During the distillation program, it was difficult for U.S. brandy to compete on a price basis; U.S. brandy exports flattened. In addition, countries like Japan implemented trade barriers which further limited U.S. brandy exports.
Orange juice production in the major Northern Hemisphere producing countries in 1996/97 is forecast at a record 1.16 million metric tons, 5 percent above the previous year's level based on expected record U.S. production. These large supplies will continue to challenge the marketing ability of exporters. Northern Hemisphere orange juice exports in 1996/97 are forecast at a record 261,852 tons, 1 percent above the previous year's shipments.
Citrus exports in 1996/97 from selected countries in the Northern Hemisphere are forecast at 6.2 million tons, down 4 percent from last year's shipments. Exports from Spain, the world's largest fresh citrus exporter, are forecast to decrease 8 percent due to weather reduced orange and tangerine harvests. The United States, the world's second largest fresh citrus exporter, is expected to increase exports 7 percent in 1996/97. Higher U.S. orange exports will partially offset likely lower Spanish orange shipments. However, a record U.S. grapefruit crop and increased competition from Israeli Sweetie grapefruit will challenge exporters to expand current markets and find new ones.
U.S. fresh vegetable exports (including potatoes) in fiscal year 1996 were valued at $979 million, the third largest export value in history, but down 14 percent from the record in FY 1995. Although the value of vegetable exports was down considerably because of lower unit values, and a recovery in Japanese and Korean production, the volume of exports dropped only 3 percent from the previous year. Canada was once again the top market for U.S. vegetable exports, followed by Japan, Mexico, EU-15 and other Asian countries. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, asparagus, bell peppers, celery and cauliflower topped the list for all U.S. vegetable exports.
New Zealand's Ministry of Agriculture issued a new Import Health Standard on January 16, 1997 that clears the way for the entry of Florida grapefruit, effective immediately. One industry source estimated that New Zealand could develop into a 300,000-400,000 carton market over time for Florida grapefruit (approximately 5,700 tons - 7,700 tons). U.S. exports of grapefruit to New Zealand in the first 11 months of 1996, presumably sourced from California and Arizona, totaled 1,741 metric tons, with a value of $2.8 million.
U.S. and New Zealand quarantine officials have finalized the terms of a technical agreement which will permit U.S. fresh asparagus to enter New Zealand, beginning with the coming season. The country represents a promising new market for an industry that has seen its exports expand significantly in recent years. For first 11 months of 1996, U.S. asparagus exports to all destinations totaled 14,161 tons, valued at $51 million.
For more information you may contact the Horticultural and Tropical Products Division, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA at (202) 720-6590.