U.S. Fresh Vegetable Imports From Mexico and Canada Continue to Surge

The United States receives fresh vegetables from more than 125 different countries, but most imports originate from Mexico and Canada. In 2020, Mexico accounted for 77 percent of U.S. fresh vegetable import volume, and Canada represented 11 percent. An analysis of domestic census and trade data shows Mexican and Canadian producers have dominated the U.S. import market by offering protected culture—or greenhouse—imports as well as organic options, which increased choices for consumers. While conventional and field-grown fresh vegetables still account for most imports, organic and greenhouse vegetables are expanding market reach.

U.S. consumers have pushed for greater consistency in supermarket produce and expanded demand for year-round availability of virtually all fresh vegetables. Between 1998 and 2020, the volume of fresh vegetable imports increased nearly 200 percent, and the value of fresh vegetable imports grew to exceed fresh exports by $7.6 billion, more than double the same figure a decade earlier.

Market Window Creep in Fresh Vegetable Imports

Market window creep is an extension of seasonal demand and refers to the increasing volume of fresh vegetable imports entering during the start or end of the traditional domestic production seasons. Over time, the categorization of vegetables into summer and winter categories has dwindled as near year-round imports of both categories of produce proliferated. Many traditional domestic market windows have eroded as importers have found their own market windows expanding, according to trade data. From 2008 to 2020, imports entered the market earlier than usual (entering the traditional domestic market window), and shipping seasons were extended into the following season.

To read the rest of the story, please go to: USDA ERS