Agricultural Trade:

Causes and Impacts of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Imports

RCED-88-149BR: Published: May 10, 1988. Publicly Released: May 10, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding the extent, causes, and impact of the rise in fruit and vegetable imports.

GAO found that, from 1980 through 1986: (1) vegetable imports rose from $738 million to $1.6 billion; (2) fruit imports rose from $482 million to $1.6 billion; (3) fruit import shares rose from 26 percent to 33 percent; (4) vegetable import shares rose from 5 percent to 7 percent; and (5) frozen concentrated orange juice, fresh and frozen broccoli, fresh and processed tomatoes, and table grapes accounted for about half of the rise in fruit and vegetable imports. GAO also found that economic and demographic developments influencing the rise in fruit and vegetable imports included: (1) lower production costs abroad; (2) the rise in the dollar's exchange rate against the currencies of export countries; (3) foreign government actions, such as production subsidies; (4) reduced domestic crops due to bad weather and crop disease; (5) increased agricultural globalization; and (6) demographic and lifestyle changes causing increased U.S. consumer demand for fresh and frozen produce. In addition, GAO found that the import increases: (1) generally benefited consumers and distributors; (2) were disadvantageous to some domestic producers and processors; and (3) have raised health and safety concerns regarding product integrity.

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