U.S. organic fresh produce imports have increased significantly over the past 10 years, going from $374 million for selected commodities in 2012-13 to $1.85 billion in 2022-23, representing roughly 400% growth.
For the marketing year September through August, USDA statistics show the top organic import fresh produce item tracked was blueberries, which grew from just $5.7 million in 2012-13 to $378.9 million in 2022-23.
While bananas were the top organic import in earlier years, blueberries took over as the largest organic fruit import category starting in 2018, according to USDA trade numbers.
Organic banana imports in 2022-23 totaled $334.7 million, up 8% from the previous season and up 46% from $229 million in 2012-13.
In addition, USDA data shows that avocados, apples, mangoes and pears have seen significant import growth. U.S. imports of organic apples totaled $59 million in 2022-23, up 5% from the previous season and more than three times the 2012-13 imports of $15 million.
There has been extremely rapid growth in categories like organic raspberries, cucumbers and bell peppers in the past two to three years, according to the data.
The USDA reports U.S. imports of organic raspberries in 2022-23 totaled $225.8 million, up 142% from $93.2 million in 2021-22.
U.S. imports of organic blackberries in 2022-23 totaled $85.4 million, up 16% from $73.4 million in 2021-22.
U.S. imports of organic strawberries from mid-September to mid-June totaled $137.5 million in 2022-23, up 35% from $101.5 million the previous season.
U.S. imports of organic avocados totaled $153 million in 2022-23, down 31% from 2021-22 but more than 10 times 2012-13 imports of $13.7 million, according to USDA numbers.
The numbers show both substantial expansion in the value of imports and the type of organic produce imported to meet rising consumer demand.
New organic produce items like raspberries, cucumbers, bell peppers and squash have risen to become top import categories in recent years, indicating diversification. U.S. imports of organic greenhouse bell peppers totaled $92.2 million in 2022-23, down 2% from the previous year but more than double the $38.1 million in 2017-18, according to USDA.
Vegetable imports such as ginger have also gained prominence, with ginger imports increasing by over 50% between 2013 and 2023.
30/10/2023 The Packer