Oct 31, 2018
USDA: Vegetable supply steady despite weather, trade gap

Severe weather during 2018 has been a major disruption to some of the spring and summer vegetable markets. However, despite these events, U.S. markets have exhibited steady to increased production for both fresh and processed vegetables.

The report, Vegetables and Pulses Outlook, VGS-361, Oct. 26, 2018 USDA, Economic Research Service, updates the status of the domestic vegetable industry.

Though wet weather slowed some 2018 plantings compared to the previous year, weather patterns overall have since supported continued crop development under more favorable conditions. More recently, moisture returned to the Eastern U.S., brought on by landfall of two hurricanes and the detriment of those crop areas.

Although the full extent of damage is not yet know, the storms have at least slowed harvest activities in the region. While retail prices for overall fresh vegetables grew slightly, the farm value dipped this year, compared to 2017. This is at least partially due to a dramatic spike in prices caused by spring flooding in California in 2017, which delayed the harvest and drove up commodity market prices. Both consumer and producer price indices for fresh vegetables showed gains, indicating strong markets.

Overall increasing export values for both fresh and processed vegetables is the trend in 2018 year-to-date. For vegetables, both fresh and processed, the U.S. imported more and exported less in 2018 that one year previous. Mexico and Canada, our closest trading partners, remained dominant in the fresh markets. Garbanzo bean production is forecast to continue its meteoric climb, despite substantial tariffs in international markets hampering exports. Improved yields in dry beans, peas, and lentils gave a boost to domestic production; however, narrowing U.S. exports are being reported across all of these markets globally.

Fresh Vegetable Shipments Remain Steady Total year-to-date shipment volume of most 2018 fresh-market vegetables through August was comparable to the same period last year. Large declines in tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and dry onions were offset by shipment increases in head lettuce, cucumbers, celery, carrots, broccoli, squash, and chili peppers.

Wet conditions in dry bulb onion–growing areas of Oregon slowed harvest pace below the previous year and below the 3-year average. The state of Washington dry bulb onion harvest was also at a slower pace than the 3-year average. As of August 25, 2018, the current year ranks fifth of six years in percentage of processed tomatoes harvested.

To view the full Vegetable and Pulses Outlook, visit here.

Broderick Parr, Jennifer K. Bond, Travis Minor/USDA





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