Trends and Impacts of Fruit and Vegetable Imports

T-RCED-88-40: Published: May 10, 1988. Publicly Released: May 10, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed U.S. fruit and vegetable imports. GAO noted that: (1) fruit imports rose from $482 million in 1980 to $1.6 billion in 1987; (2) vegetable imports rose from $738 million in 1980 to about $1.6 billion in 1986; (3) imported fruit's share rose from 26 percent in 1980 to over 33 percent in 1986; and (4) the imported processed vegetable market share doubled during the same time period, while the market share of imported fresh vegetables remained relatively constant. GAO also noted that factors behind the import increases included: (1) lower production costs in some foreign countries; (2) the rise in the exchange rate against the currencies of export countries; (3) foreign government actions, such as producer and export subsidies; (4) natural disturbances to domestic production; (5) increased agricultural globalization; and (6) demographic and social changes causing increased U.S. consumer demand for fresh and frozen produce. In addition, GAO noted that the import increases: (1) were generally advantageous to consumers, distributors, and some processors; (2) were detrimental to some producers and processors, depending on market maturity and timing; and (3) have raised health and safety concerns regarding imported product integrity.

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