World Horticultural Trade and U.S. Export Opportunities
December 1997 Issue
U.S. Horticultural Exports Rose 6 Percent to $10.6 Billion in Fiscal Year 1997
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 1997--U.S. exports of horticultural products to all countries in September totaled $932 million, up less than 1 percent from the same month a year earlier. During September 1997, 10 out of 15 categories registered increases. Categories with the most significant increases in September were dehydrated vegetables (up $6.4 million or 36 percent), fresh citrus (up $5.0 million or 28 percent), and wine (up $4.9 million or 13 percent). Categories with the most significant decreases were fresh non-citrus fruit (down $11.6 million or 8 percent) and tree nuts (down $6.3 million or 3 percent). For fiscal year (FY) 1997, the total value of U.S. horticultural exports was $10.6 billion--6 percent above FY 1996.
In 1997/98, french fry exports from the three major exporting countries, the United States, the Netherlands, and Canada, are forecast at a record 1.8 million metric tons, 8 percent above the previous year's shipments. All three selected countries are expected to register export gains in 1997/98. Canada could surpass the United States in 1997/98 as the world's second-largest french fry exporter. Canadian exports in 1997/98 are forecast at a record 425,000 tons, 23 percent above 1996/97 shipments and 83 percent above the 1996/97 value. U.S. frozen french fry exports reached a record $286 million and 385,700 tons in 1996/97, almost double the volume and more than twice the value of just 5 years ago. U.S. french fry exports are forecast to increase 9 percent in 1997/98. Japan is the largest U.S. market, accounting for half of U.S. shipments.
Pear production in selected Northern Hemisphere countries in 1997/98 is forecast at 3.76 million metric tons, down 11 percent from 1996/97. A sharp reduction in the European Union (EU) pear crop, especially in Italy, has decreased overall Northern Hemisphere pear output in 1997/98. Northern Hemisphere pear exports in 1997/98 are also expected to decrease 11 percent from the previous season's shipments, based primarily on reductions in the EU pear crops. U.S. pear exports in 1997/98, on the other hand, are forecast to increase 21 percent to a record 145,000 tons. Increased production of good quality fruit in Washington, California, and Oregon, combined with smaller EU exportable supplies, have boosted U.S. pear export prospects in 1997/98.
The 1997/98 raisin/sultana pack in the major commercial producing countries of the Northern Hemisphere is forecast at 599,000 tons (packed-weight basis), up 8 percent from 1996/97. Significant pack increases in all Northern Hemisphere countries are responsible for the upturn in output. Northern Hemisphere exports are forecast to rise by more than 7 percent in 1997/98. Increases in exports are expected from all selected countries. Although the volume of U.S. raisin exports was down in 1996/97, the value of exports reached a record $205 million. Major U.S. markets include Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Germany.
The smaller U.S. sweet corn pack in 1997, estimated at 2.78 million tons, down 7 percent from 1996, is expected to lower production and stocks for canned sweet corn. However, U.S. exports of canned sweet corn in 1997 are forecast at 210,000 tons, up 18 percent from 1996 based on strong shipments to date. U.S. canned sweet corn exports from January-August 1997 were 22 percent ahead of the previous year's volume during the same time period. Japan continues to be the top U.S. market for canned sweet corn. Other major U.S. canned sweet corn markets include Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea. U.S. exports of frozen sweet corn in 1997 are forecast at 65,000 tons, up 13 percent from 1996, also based on strong exports to date.
The first shipment of Florida tomatoes arrived in Japan in early November, an 18-ton container. This shipment followed the first successful shipments from California earlier in the year, following Japan's decision to allow in a limited number of U.S. tomato varieties after many years of negotiations. However, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) unexpectedly instituted a 100-percent sampling regime for Florida tomatoes, due ostensibly to concerns over the possible transmission of Caribbean fruit fly. Following a meeting with officials of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Foreign Agricultural Service in Tokyo on Monday, November 10, MAFF agreed to exempt Florida tomatoes which are packed in the early stages of ripeness from the rigorous Caribfly inspection requirement. Further complicating the issue was a shipping delay in California, which contributed a quality degradation. A second shipment is en route and is expected to arrive in better condition.
China has reduced import duties on a range of agricultural commodities, including many horticultural products, effective Oct. 1, 1997. For example, the duties on most fresh vegetable items were reduced from 22 percent ad valorem to 13 percent. Duties on tree nuts and fresh fruits, which had generally ranged from 48 to 55 percent, were cut in most cases to 30 percent, an exception being oranges, where the duty was lowered to 45 percent. The duty cuts not withstanding, it should be noted that China continues to ban the importation of most U.S. fruits on phytosanitary grounds, the current exceptions being Washington State cherries, Pacific Northwest apples, and table grapes from five California counties.