Exports of U.S. organic commodities posted a 15 percent gain to $321 million in the first half of 2019, while imports of organic commodities were up 4 percent to $1.06 billion, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) trade statistics.
Mexico remained the leading country of origin for U.S. organic imports during the first six months of 2019, shipping to the U.S. market over $193.5 million worth of organic commodities, up 22 percent over the same period in 2018.
Peru was the second-largest shipper of organics to the U.S. market for the Jan.-June period with $75.2 million worth of organic commodities, up 28 percent, while Italy was the third-largest shipper of organics to the U.S. market with a value of $71.5 million, up 14 percent, followed closely by Spain with $70.7 million, up 6 percent.
The most notable change in imported organic commodities in 2019 has been the sharp drop in the volume of organic livestock feed ingredients such as soybeans and corn, which registered declines of 29 percent and 21 percent, respectively, during the first half of the year.
Organic soybean and corn imports from Turkey, which totaled $104 million and $118 million, respectively, in 2016, have been non-existent in 2019. Organic soybean imports from India, which has picked up much of the slack left by Eastern European exporters, have plunged 30 percent in 2019 to $33.8 million.
Top 10 U.S. organic commodity imports Jan.-June 2019 (by value and percent change from Jan.-June 2018):):
- Organic Arabica coffee: $158 million, up 37 percent
- Organic bananas: $125.4 million, down 4 percent
- Organic fresh blueberries: $76.5 million, up 117 percent
- Organic extra virgin olive oil (<18kg): $75.4 million, up 3 percent
- Organic soybeans (except seed): $74 million, down 29 percent
- Organic sugar: $72.5 million, up 15 percent
- Organic fresh/dried Hass avocado: $65.8 million, up 7 percent
- Organic greenhouse bell peppers: $43.9 million, up 109 percent
- Organic shelled almonds: $43.1 million, up 43 percent
- Organic fresh apples: $42.1 million, up 19 percent
For 2018, the U.S. organic products trade deficit reached its highest level ever of more than $1.6 billion, with organic imports reaching $2.2 billion, up 21 percent, while exports came in at $619.6 million, up 8 percent.
The USDA’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), which began tracking organic commodities in 2011, contains just a fraction of the actual trade in organic products. Existing HS codes include mostly fresh and frozen organic products such as milk, fruits, and vegetables. In 2018, organic vinegar and substitutes was the only commodity added to the harmonized system (HS) codes list.
U.S. organic apple exports to Mexico soar 318%
Meanwhile, the value of U.S. organic food commodity exports for the first six months of 2019 totaled $321 million, up 15 percent.
Canada remained the largest export market for U.S. commodity organics during the first half of 2019, with a value of $151.6 million, up 3 percent.
Organic exports to Mexico, the second largest destination market, soared 185 percent to $87.7 million for the Jan. to June period. Organic exports to Mexico had declined 19 percent overall in 2018 to $108.6 million.
The largest increase in exports to Mexico during Jan.-June came from organic onion sets at $14.9 million, up 1,450 percent. Exports of organic apples were $40.4 million, up 318 percent, and exports of organic pears were up 257 percent to $10.6 million.
Top 10 U.S. organic commodity exports Jan.-June 2019 (by value and percent change from Jan.-June 2018):
- Organic fresh apples: $59.3 million, up 42 percent
- Organic lettuce (not head): $28.8 million, up 7 percent
- Organic fresh/chilled spinach: $24.3 million, up 21 percent
- Organic fresh strawberries: $20.3, up 2 percent
- Organic fresh/chilled carrots: $18.7, down 6 percent
- Organic fresh/chilled onion sets: $15 million, up 1,033 percent
- Organic fresh/dried lemons: $13.1 million, up 123 percent
- Organic fresh pears: $12.3 million, up 167 percent
- Organic tomato sauce (excl. ketchup): $12.2 million, down 12 percent
- Organic fresh blueberries: $11.5 million, down 14 percent