factors as consumers prioritize consumption of food and other necessities over more non-essential goods, some impact on agricultural import demand is still likely.” Production rises in key supply countries But looking further ahead than FY 2023, it seems like- ly that the rate of fresh produce import growth will be stronger than that year, especially when considering the production increases that are set to come from some of its biggest Latin American suppliers. USDA figures show that in 2021, Mexico — by far the U.S.’s biggest foreign supplier of both fruit and vegetables — sent 625,995 truckloads of fresh produce to the market. This is a leap from 260,992 truckloads in 2007. From his Texas office, Galeazzi says Mexico’s growth is attributable to a long list of resources for the industry that are difficult or less available for U.S. producers. Labor is starting to be a challenge for many growers in Mexico, but unlike in the U.S., there is still a good labor pool. Also, in America there are major water shortages across the country, not only in California, and agribusi- ness is strained by competition for land, and high levels of regulatory compliance and oversight. Agrochemical prices skyrocketed in 2021 and transportation costs have gone up dramatically over the past three years. All these factors drive up final costs, which then push a certain amount of production outside the United States. Increasing U.S. production costs, growth of knowledge and experience in Mexico, and the speed and ease of commu - nication spurred a wider variety of commodities being grown outside the U.S. Mexico has grown strawberries for 30 years, but that production has exploded in the past decade. Now every major U.S. berry producer has Mexican berry production, according to Galeazzi. Additionally, now there are more high-value items produced with very good results in Mex - ico. For example, proprietary grape varieties and other high-value specialty programs have been tailored as part of a planned production system to meet consumer demand — especially American consumers who go to grocery

stores and expect these items to be there all year. Imports of horticultural products from Mexico between 2016 and 2021 soared by 61% from $18.1 billion to $29 billion. And in 2022 through September - the last month with data available at the time of writing - imports were running 15% higher than 2021, above the average of 13% across all supplying countries. Another important fresh produce supplier to the U.S., especially for fruit, is Peru. Imports from the South American country have skyrocketed over recent years. The country has shot up the rankings from just the 14th big - gest fruit supplier to the market in 2011 to the third largest in 2019, FAS data shows. If recent trends continue, it will take Chile’s number-two spot within the next few years. Speaking about table grapes - one of the stars of Peru’s fruit exports of the past few years - Mark Greenberg, pres - ident of Montreal-based Capespan North America says: “Peru is absolutely rocking and rolling, 100%, because of excellent fruit. “There is a wonderful climate. The growers are big and sophisticated, and they have desirable varieties. Peru used to be known for Red Globe grapes, but in the past decade it has moved to seedless and proprietary seedless varieties. The country has ideal conditions. Rarely are there water problems for irrigation. Peru produces a first-rate product. Everything grows there. If you plant a new vineyard in northern Peru — Piura or Chiclayo — you’ll have produc - tion two years earlier than you would have from a new vineyard in Chile or California. The produce grows well, and it grows fast. The product is absolutely great.” Looking at the U.S.’s imports of horticultural prod- ucts from Peru from 2016 to 2021, these grew at an even faster pace than Mexico’s, almost doubling to $1.6 bil - lion. And through September 2022, they were up by 35% year-on-year, more than any other major supplier. With big production increases expected over the coming years from numerous fruit crops like blueberries, avocados and table grapes, the U.S. market will surely see rapidly rising import volumes from the country for a while to come. Elsewhere in Latin America, fruit producers are also

The value of U.S. fruit imports rose nearly five-fold from $4.8 billion in 1999 to $22.7 billion in 2021.

Vision Magazine 19

December 2022

Powered by