May 3, 2018
Falling exports offset production dip, raise per capita figures

Domestic availability of vegetables grew slightly in 2017, due primarily to a steep decrease in exports, according to USDA’s Vegetables and Pulses Outlook.

Per capita availability of fresh vegetables in the United States climbed to 188 pounds; up about 1 pound from 2016 levels. Similarly, per capita availability of processed vegetables grew to just over 200 pounds; up just over 3 pounds from the previous year.

Export volumes for both fresh and processed vegetables fell in 2017, while import levels rose for fresh vegetables and remained relatively steady in the processed market. Lower exports, plus a large amount of beginning stocks of canned vegetables, helped to raise per capita availability and put downward pressure on the price of processed vegetables.

Overall domestic fresh vegetable production was down approximately 2 percent in 2017 from the previous year, and processed vegetables were down over 12 percent from 2016 levels. Crop yields were hindered by unpredictable weather patterns, which lowered 2017 production of fresh and processed vegetables.

Through early 2018, weather in major crop areas of California points to boosted yield potential, which, when coupled with current acreage, indicates higher production of fresh-market and processed vegetables. Additionally, imports for 2018 show continued signs of growth.

Exports of fresh vegetables also seem poised to surpass 2017 levels, while exports of processed vegetables remain depressed. In 2017, dry conditions in key production regions sapped yields for nearly all pulse crops, driving down production.

Despite reduced drought concerns, pulses planted area is forecast down in 2018. All dry bean area is forecast to decline by 7 percent, while dry peas and lentils planted areas are projected down 20 and 28 percent, respectively. Only chickpea planted area is forecast to rise, up 7 percent from 2017. Gains in chickpea area come despite the Indian Government’s imposition of tariffs on dry peas and lentils, which has dramatically affected U.S. exports to the country.

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