ERS conducts market outlook activities on the U.S. fruit and tree nuts industry. Details on major changes and events in the various commodity markets comprising this industry are published in the Fruit and Tree Nuts Outlook. ERS also provides over 20 years of time-series data for fresh and processed fruit and tree nuts through Fruit and Tree Nuts Yearbook published annually in October.
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Production is forecast to rebound for several major fruit crops in 2016/17, which will likely put some downward pressure on prices. U.S. citrus production, however, endures another year of decline. Major tree nut crops — almonds and walnuts — are forecast to increase again in 2016/17, potentially reaching record-high levels.
Production declines continue for most citrus crops in 2016/17, increases for major tree nuts
The 2016/17 marketing year is well underway for most fruit and tree nut crops. Several crops are forecast to see a reversal from production declines in 2015/16. U.S. citrus production, however, continues to decline, with total crop size currently forecast at 7.77 million tons, down 9 percent from the 8.56 million tons produced in 2015/16.
With the exception of tangerines/mandarins, all major citrus crops are forecast lower than 2015/16 levels.
Expanded acreage and higher yields have contributed to larger almond and walnut crops in 2016/17. U.S. almond output — which accounts for nearly two-thirds of U.S. tree nut production — is forecast at 2.05 billion pounds in 2016/17, up moderately from the previous season and, if realized, just barely surpassing the previous record of 2.03 billion pounds in 2011/12.
Benefiting from sufficient chilling hours and sufficient winter rains, walnut output is also forecast to reach a record high in 2016/17. The pecan output is forecast up 3 percent from 2015/16, stemming from improved-variety production gains while declines continue for the native-variety crop.
Almonds and walnuts are produced almost totally in California while pecans are produced throughout the Southern and Southwestern States.
Grower and retail prices drop below last year
Ample supplies of apples and strawberries continued to soften grower prices in January 2017. At the same time, sluggish export demand, large import supplies, and the current high-volume/lower-price apple market likely contributed to lower fresh pear prices than last season.
Despite reduced production for the 2016/17 season, fresh orange and lemon grower prices have also remained below year-ago levels through January 2017. Increased lemon imports are likely contributing to the ongoing lower fresh-lemon grower prices.
With these lower prices, the grower price index for all fruit—a measure of the average change in prices received by growers — fell to 121.6 (2011=100) in January 2017, down from 124.8 in January 2016.
Since declining below year-ago levels in December 2016, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for fresh fruit has remained down in 2017. At 353.3 (1982-84=100), the CPI in February 2017 was down 4 percent from the same month in 2016.
Lower retail prices for Red Delicious apples, strawberries, Thompson seedless grapes, and navel oranges drove down the CPI in February, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.