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Recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake costs around $2.50 in US

Recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake costs around $2.50 in US

A USDA food consumption survey found that US citizens are consuming only 0.9 cups of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables per day. This is well below the recommendation to include 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables in their daily diets. The main cause of this deficiency is thought to be cost, with low-income households particularly affected.

It was found that 8 out of 62 fresh and processed fruits cost less than 40 cents per cup in 2016, while another 21 fruits cost less than 80 cents per cup. The cheapest fruits per cup were fresh whole watermelon (20 cents) and processed apple juice (26 cents), while the most expensive were found to be fresh blackberries, fresh raspberries, and canned cherries.

Vegetables tended to be more affordable than fruits, with 77% of vegetables and only 47% of fruits costing less than 80 cents per cup. The cheapest fresh and processed vegetables were heads of Romaine lettuce, fresh whole carrots, canned green beans and dried pinto beans, which all cost less than 40 cents per cup in 2016 – in fact, dried pinto beans cost 17 cents per cup. The most expensive vegetable was found to be fresh asparagus, at $2.47 per cup, at $0.17 per cup equivalent.

The study found that 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables could be obtained in 2016 for about $2.10 to $2.60 as part of a 2,000-calorie diet.

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Imports capture under 10% of US fresh apple demand

Imports are a growing presence in the US fresh apple market but still small relative to domestic production, according to the publication ‘Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: Economic Insight US Fresh-Market Apples’.

Less than one in ten fresh apples eaten in the United States in the last five years was grown abroad, figures from a USDA report show.

That’s up from an average of one in twenty in the 1980s.

But while imports are a growing presence in the US fresh apple market, they are still small relative to domestic production, according to the publication ‘Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: Economic Insight US Fresh-Market Apples’.

It says the the US is a leading importer of fresh apples and the amount of globally sourced fresh apples in the US has risen significantly since the 1980s – from an average 237 million pounds in the 1980s to almost 400 million pounds over the last 5 years. “Record imports were reported in 2003/04 at 472.7 million pounds. Import share of domestic fresh apple use has risen from a 5% average in the 1980s to around 8% over the last 5 years.”

Chile the US’s main foreign source of fresh apples

With counter seasonal production, Chile accounts for over 60% of total import volume, making it by far the US’s top foreign source of fresh apples.

It has emerged as a strong supplier over the past decade having “successfully developed a more export-oriented apple industry and benefited from the growing demand in the Northern Hemisphere for off-season fruit.”

New Zealand, Canada and Argentina account for most of the rest of US fresh apple imports.

Imports continue to be concentrated over the US summer but the combination of new varieties with later harvest dates and the increased use of more sophisticated storage technology have enabled the US apple industry to move domestic apples more evenly across the marketing season. “Even in summer months when import volumes are increased, domestic production dominates fresh apples shipped throughout the year.”

“The marketing season for US apples runs from August through July. Harvesting occurs between August and November, but the ability to store apples for a long period and counterseasonal import availability permit more even distribution of supplies throughout the year, which mitigates seasonal price variability.”

US apple exports

Five countries – Mexico, Canada, India, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates – account for more than half of US apple exports, with Mexico alone taking more than a quarter.

More than 60% of the total export volume for the marketing year is shipped between October and the following March, partly coinciding with the fall harvest.

High hopes for more exports to China

The report says a bright spot in US apple exports is the prospect of future sales increases to China.

“The 2015/16 season will be the first full marketing year with expanded market to China and already, export volume this season through January is 98% higher than the same time in 2014/15. The US apple industry estimates that within two years, exports to China will reach a value of nearly $100 million per year.”

source: Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook: Economic Insight US Fresh-Market Apples

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Fresh produce prices on the rise in United States

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Retail prices for fresh fruit in the United States should rise by 2.5-3.5% in 2016, according to the latest USDA Food Price Outlook.

And those for fresh vegetables are forecast to rise 2-3%, it says.

The expected rises come after estimated deflation of 0.75% to 0.25% in 2015 for fresh fruit and vegetables overall.

Historical data indicate that fresh fruits and vegetables and egg prices are the most volatile food prices that ERS tracks.

“Prices for fresh fruits fell 0.3 percent from October to November but are 1.1 percent higher than in November 2014. Despite being higher year-over-year due, fresh fruit prices are still expected to deflate overall in 201. ERS expects fresh fruit prices to decrease 2.25 to 1.25 percent in 2015 due, in part, to the supply and price of imports.

“Fresh vegetable prices increased in November, rising 1.1 percent over October levels. Fresh vegetable prices are up 1.8 percent since November 2014, resulting in an expectation for prices to increase 0.75 to 1.75 percent in 2015. This does not say that the drought had no impact on fresh produce prices—other factors, such as the strength of the U.S. dollar and low oil prices, have placed downward pressure on retail fruit and vegetable prices,” the ERS said.

Supermarket image: By ProjectManhattan. (Own work.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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USDA estimates cost of fruit and veg snacks

Potential fruit replacements for junk food snacks include The potential fruit replacements were apples, bananas, cantaloupe, tinned fruit cocktail, grapes, oranges, canned peaches, canned pineapple, plums, raisins, strawberries, tangerine and watermelon.

What impact would it have if once a day a child’s energy-dense snack was instead replaced by a serving of fruit or vegetables?

Amid rising numbers of overweight and even obese children in the US, the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) has updated its assessments of just such an impact on both household food spending and children’s caloric intakes.

The ERS findings include that in most cases replacing a snack with a fruit or vegetable reduces calories consumed, and in some cases it is also cheaper. For example:

  • Replacing a 2.6-ounce fruit Danish with 5.2-ounce portion of apples would reduce intake by 194 calories. It would also save a household 11 cents.
  • Replacing a one-ounce portion of a chocolate-chip cookie for a 5.2-ounce portion of apples would reduce caloric intake by 46 calories, though it would cost the household an additional 20 cents.

Which fruit and vegetables are particularly good for kids’ snacks

The ERS estimated the average costs for 156 fresh and processed fruits and vegetables as well as the price per portion for 20 snack items commonly consumed by children ages 6-13, including salty snacks, baked and sweet goods, and frozen treats. It also identified and priced 20 fruits and vegetables seen as potential replacements for these snack foods.

The potential fruit replacements were apples, bananas, cantaloupe, tinned fruit cocktail, grapes, oranges, canned peaches, canned pineapple, plums, raisins, strawberries, tangerine and watermelon.

The vegetable ones were broccoli, carrots, celery, red peppers, sweet potatoes (cooked) and tomatoes (grape or cherry).

See the ERS data here.