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US a winner as Taiwan’s export market expands



Last year was a near–record in terms of US farm exports to Taiwan, the USDA reported this week.

It also said demand from Taiwan consumers is pushing up expanding the market for diverse imports, including for fruit, vegetables and tree nuts.

The US is Taiwan’s leading source of farm products overall – supplying about a quarter of Taiwan’s total agricultural imports – and of most varieties of imported fresh fruit. Its respective shares of the import market in what is one of Asia’s big traders includes apples 39%, cherries 50%, peaches and nectarines 76%, table grapes 62%, plums 78%, oranges 81% and berries 79%.

The US also holds a dominant market share for most vegetables, including broccoli 96%, onion 87%, lettuce 99% and potatoes 96%, the USDA said.

Given the island’s relatively small agricultural sector, its dependence on imports is expected to keep increasing, it said.


Also growth in ready-to-eat foods

In 2013, Taiwan’s fresh fruit and vegetable segment grew 80% on 2012 and the 7-Eleven convenience store chain – which sells about 3,000 tons of fresh fruit and vegetables a year – expected fresh fruit and vegetable sales to rise by a tenth last year.

Convenience stores are now major players in Taiwan’s growing market for ready-to-eat foods such as fruit (mainly, bananas, apples and yams) and lunch boxes, the USDA said. 7-Eleven started selling fresh fruit in 2010 and its annual banana sales volume have reached more than 1,000 tons.

Increase expected in indirect imports of fresh fruit by Taiwan’s retailers

Industry sources estimate that about 15% of Taiwan’s imported fresh fruit is now imported directly by supermarkets, hypermarkets, and warehouse stores. The rest is imported by importers/distributors.

“Direct import of fresh fruit by retail stores is expected to continue to increase in the next few years,” the USDA said.

However, it also said sales of imported goods in traditional markets should not be overlooked. Industry sources estimate about 55% of imported fruit from the US is sold in wet markets island–wide.



Taiwan: Commodities Pave Way for Near-record U.S. Ag. Exports to Taiwan

Taiwan: Retail Foods

Both published by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural INformation Network (GAIN)





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Organic pear, avocado and apple imports increasing in the US



US imports of certified organic pears, avocados and apples are showing triple digit growth in value for the first ten months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

And organic garlic, non-greenhouse bell peppers and blueberries have notched up double digit gains.

Organic bananas and mangoes, however, are at both values and volumes less than half those of 2013. Nevertheless, bananas, followed by apples, avocados and mangoes, lead in total value imported among those organic fresh fruits and vegetables being tracked by the USDA.

The figures come from the selected organics section of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS), which was updated this week with data to the end of October 2014.


Pears*: those entering US between April 1-June 30 inclusive

Avocados*: Hass avocados and others considered Hass-like, fresh or dried

Apples*: fresh, valued at more than 22 cents/kg

Bell peppers*: other than greenhouse, fresh or chilled

Mangoes*: entering US September 1–May 31, fresh

Mangoes **: entering US between June 1–August 31, fresh


US imports Jan-Oct 2014 for selected organic produce

Imported organic item

VALUE (in thousands of USD)


% Change in Value Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013

% Change in Vol. Jan-Oct 2014 vs same period 2013






Apples Fr >22Cents/Kg





Avocado-Hslike Fr/Dr





Mangoes Fresh 9/1-5/31





Mangoes Fresh 6/1-8/31





Bell Peppers Fr Other





Pears Fresh (April 1-June 30)





Bell Peppers Greenhse





Cultiv Blueberries Fr





Pears Fresh Other Time












Partner Product Value (in thousands of US$) Qty (MT) % Change Value (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013) % Change Vol. (Jan-Oct 2014 on Jan-Oct 2013)
World Total Pears Fresh Other Time 2,926 3,026.3 -14 4
Argentina Pears Fresh Other Time 2,889 2,988.7 -12 9
Chile Pears Fresh Other Time 38 37.6 -67 -72
World Total Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,524 7,521.3 228 242
Argentina Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 8,361 7,409.9 227 245
Chile Pears Fresh 4/1-6/30 163 111.4 342 141


US IMPORTS OF FRESH ORGANIC APPLES (at price >22Cents/Kg) Jan–Oct 2014
Measurement units: Val 1,000 USD, Vol 42LBC
Partner Value Qty % Change in Value on same period in 2013 % Change in Vol. on same period in 2013
World Total 29,396 1,374,204.4 100 68
Chile 18,000 848,496.4 89 61
Argentina 8,627 353,417.6 259 237
New Zealand 2,079 150,790.0 5 -1
Canada 691 21,500.3 -11 -30

US imports of fresh organic cultiv. BLUEBERRIES Jan-Oct 2014
Partner Value in ‘000 US$ Qty in tons % change in value on Jan-Oct 2013 % change in quantity on Jan-Oct 2013
WORLD TOTAL 5,975 1,321.9 43 75
Chile 4,104 1,144.4 15 58
Argentina 1,852 172.5 384 712
South Africa 19 4.9


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US to spend $173.2 million promoting exports of its farm products

borrar usda logo

The US Government has announced funds of more than $173 million to be used next year to increase exports of American agricultural products.

Washington apple growers, Florida citrus producers, California’s table grape sector and the Northwest pear industry are among those set to benefit from multi-million dollar allocations.


Cranberry, cling peach, cherry, sweet potato, tomato, and organic produce organisations are also among the recipients.


Through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Market Access Program (MAP), the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will provide $173.2 million (up from nearly $172 million last year) to 62 nonprofit organisations and cooperatives. Participants contribute an average 214% match for generic marketing and promotion activities and a dollar-for-dollar match for promotion of branded products by small businesses and cooperatives.


MAP focuses on consumer promotion, including brand promotion for small companies and cooperatives, and is used extensively by organisations promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, processed products, and bulk and intermediate commodities.


Meanwhile, under the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program (also known as the Cooperator Program), FAS will allocate $26.7 million (up from $24.6 million last year) to 22 trade organizations that represent U.S. agricultural producers.


The FMD program focuses on trade servicing and capacity building by helping to create, expand and maintain long-term export markets for US agricultural products.


An independent study released in 2010 found that trade promotion programs like MAP and FMD provide $35 in economic benefits for every dollar spent by government and industry on market development, the USDA said in a press release.


“The past six years represent the strongest period for U.S. agricultural exports in the history of the United States. Farm exports in fiscal year 2014 reached a record $152.5 billion and supported 1 million jobs in the United States,” it also said.

Here is our summary of this year and last year’s funding most relevant to the fresh fruit and vegetable sector:


USDA Market Access Program (MAP) funding: Participant FY 2015 Allocation FY 2014 Allocation
Food Export Association of Midwest $10,272,114 $9,637,643
Food Export USA Northeast $8,896,086 $8,138,985
Western US Agricultural Trade Association $7,705,129 $8,097,508
Southern United States Trade Association $7,152,346 $5,874,329
Washington Apple Commission $5,179,019 $4,930,752
National Potato Promotion Board $4,998,822 $3,647,427
Florida Department of Citrus $4,383,830 $3,885,364
California Table Grape Commission $3,424,871 $3,093,070
Pear Bureau Northwest $3,069,707 $2,926,873
California Prune Board $3,023,063 $2,668,406
Raisin Administrative Committee $3,018,117 $827,922
Sunkist Growers, Inc. $2,660,274 $2,372,577
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture $2,329,520 $3,533,072
Cranberry Marketing Committee* $1,791,836 $1,561,170
Washington State Fruit Commission $1,685,709 $1,361,810
U.S. Apple Export Council $998,650 $712,727
Welch Foods, Inc. $932,734 $834,411
California Agricultural Export Council $861,378 $1,228,525
Organic Trade Association $784,902 $746,912
Intertribal Agriculture Council $728,492 $642,528
California Cling Peach Growers Advisory Board $500,182 $444,892
California Pear Advisory Board $468,842 $442,081
California Cherry Marketing and Research Board $443,722 $519,189
New York Wine and Grape Foundation $422,674 $484,886
California Grape and Tree Fruit League $413,125 $420,800
Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council $379,415 $388,412
Cherry Marketing Institute $290,042 $204,115
American Sweet Potato Marketing Institute $200,000 $200,000
Florida Tomato Committee $3,578  
National Watermelon Promotion Board   $290,367
*Cranberry Marketing Committee also received the following in Foreign Market Development Funds (FMD) $182,665 $153,754


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Baby food pushes up organic sweet potato sales in US

Sandi Kronick, CEO of Eastern Carolina Organics, (left) with Triple J Produce Sales manager Kristi Hocutt

Young mothers and pregnant women helped give birth to the growing market for organic sweet potato in the United States, says Sandi Kronick, CEO of Eastern Carolina Organics (ECO).

While she jokes that “kale pays the bills”, Kronick said sweet potatoes are the next most important item for ECO in terms of both value and volume, followed closely by blueberries.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, the farmer- and employee-owned firm markets and distributes wholesale Carolina organic farm produce to retailers, restaurants and buying clubs along the US east coast, even reaching Canada in the north and as far south as Florida. Now ten-years-old, it expects turnover of US$4 million this year, up from $3.8 million last year – all from sales within North America and about a fifth from sweet potatoes.

Baby food has long provided major demand for sweet potato and Kronick said demand for the organic version has delivered greater demand for organic sweet potato. “A lot of organic sweet potato acres go to baby food,” she said. Even so, she said less than 5 percent of total sweet potato production in the US is currently organic.

Kronick said ECO is also seeing a lot of growth – with increases in value but not necessarily volumes – in greenhouse tomatoes, in particular, and in greenhouse cucumbers and lettuce.

Exports to the UK, France and the Netherlands

One of the about 100 farms that ECO works with is Triple J Produce, located in Sims, North Carolina, which predominantly grows sweet potatoes and has about 1,000 acres of conventional cultivation for this crop and 100 acres of organic.

Sales manager Kristi Hocutt said that despite the higher costs, such as due to non-chemical weed control, the company has been increasing its organic production “because customers have been asking for it.”

Triple J supplies stores including Whole Foods in the US and exports sweet potatoes to European countries including the UK, France and the Netherlands, mainly in 6kg and 18kg boxes.

Its own sweet potato production this year will be 800,000 bushels, along with an additional 400,000 from partner growers, of which 65,000 bushels will be organic. Its 2013 crop was 500,000 bushels, of which 38,000 were organic.


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Outlook for fresh produce growth in US market


About a third of all fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in the US now imported


Changing demographics and new food and health trends are fueling forecasts of increased demand for fresh fruit and vegetables in the giant US market after several years of negligible growth.

Fresh fruit and of fresh vegetable consumption have each crept up just 1% a year for the last three years. Bananas, apples, oranges, grapes and strawberries remained the top five most consumed fruits in the US. And tropical fruit – including pineapples, papayas, mangoes and avocados – saw greater demand thanks to the country’s expanding ethnic populations and more advertising.

As for fresh vegetables, the growth – though equally flat – was helped by consumer interest in fresh-cut produce and conveniently packaged vegetables. Prepared salads and bagged salads, broccoli florets and baby carrots were key drivers.

Why is there optimism about better growth in coming years? In the case of fresh fruit, retailers, producers, and the US government are making consumption easier for consumers, focusing on marketing fruit as the snack industry does, and promoting healthy eating programs. Convenient packaging and value-added and fresh cut options are also tipped to drive up sales.

Similarly, increased consumer awareness of the importance of healthy eating and government programs to increase the availability of vegetables and promote their consumption are also projected to bolster demand of this produce.

Other important trends are the aging US population – with baby-boomers in particular expected to eat more vegetables for health benefits – and consumption of fresh produce is on the up in the foodservice sector thanks to restaurant initiatives designed to increase their use of vegetables and also due to consumer interest in ethnic cuisines in which vegetables feature more as ingredients. America’s increasing Hispanic population, for example, is linked to greater demand for peppers and onions.

Read our full report free online here on pages 40-41.



PMA report on US Produce & Retail

USDA, Economic Research Service
Supermarket News