October 5, 2000
News Release 00-128
U.S. EDIBLE NUT TRADE SURPLUS DECLINES, REPORTS ITC
The United States experienced a declining trade surplus in edible nut products from 1995 to
1999, fueled by decreasing exports of almonds and peanuts and increased imports of cashews
and peanut products, says the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in its report
Industry and Trade Summary: Edible Nuts.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the report
as part of an ongoing series of reports on thousands of products imported into and exported
from the United States. Following are highlights from the report:
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary: Edible Nuts
(USITC Publication 3352, September 2000).
- Edible nuts include (1) tree nuts that are used for edible purposes (such as snack foods
or as ingredients in prepared foods); (2) peanuts, a legume that is used in the United
States primarily as a snack food or as an ingredient in prepared foods; and
(3) watermelon and pumpkin seeds that are used as snack foods. The major tree nuts
produced in the United States and other countries are almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia
nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Brazil nuts, cashews, coconuts, and coconut
meats are not produced in the United States in commercial quantities but are consumed
in the United States.
- The United States is the world's leading producer and exporter of edible tree nuts, the
world's third largest producer of peanuts, and the leading exporter of peanuts. U.S.
production of tree nuts increased from 770 million pounds in 1995/96 to a peak of
1,214 million pounds in 1997/98 and then declined to 849 million pounds in 1998/99.
Weather and the biennial production habit of many nut trees are the principal reasons
for the changes in annual production. Exports of tree nuts followed the same pattern as
tree nut production.
- U.S. peanut production increased irregularly over the period 1995/96 to 1999/00 from
3.2 billion pounds to 3.5 billion pounds. Exports of peanuts varied from a high of
824 million pounds in 1995/96 to a low of 561 million pounds in 1998/99.
- The United States maintained a trade surplus in edible nuts during 1999 of
$418 million. Principal export markets were the European Union (EU), Canada, Japan,
and Mexico. The EU accounted for nearly one-half of U.S. edible nut exports in 1999.
India, Brazil, and Mexico are the principal sources of U.S. imports. The United States
faces competition in international markets from Argentina (peanuts), Australia
(macadamia nuts), China (walnuts), Iran (pistachios), and Turkey (hazelnuts). U.S.
tariffs on most edible nuts are low, with almost 70 percent of U.S. imports in 1999
entering free of duty without the benefit of preferential treatment. The aggregate trade-
weighted average rate of duty for all products covered in this summary was 0.7 percent
ad valorem equivalent in 1999.
- U.S. consumers of edible nuts and nut products include households, restaurants,
institutions, and processors and manufacturers of further processed products (such as
nut mixers, bakeries, confectioneries, and ice cream manufacturers. At the retail level,
changes in consumer incomes and retail prices for edible nuts and nut products relative
to other snack foods and other protein sources (meat, poultry, fish) are the principal
factors influencing the demand for edible nuts. Other factors affecting demand for
edible nuts include promotion, advertising, and health and nutrition concerns. Edible
nuts have been found to be an essential part of a good diet and have been found to
lower cholesterol levels and decrease chances of heart disease when eaten in
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and
foreign producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic
factors affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as
factors bearing on the competitiveness of the U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
This report will be available on the ITC Internet web site at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy
may be ordered without charge by calling 202-205-1809, or by writing the Office of the
Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.
Requests may be faxed to 202-205-2104.
-- 30 --