The total value of table grape imports to the U.S. increased by 5 percent year-on-year in 2021 despite volumes dipping by 1 percent, recently released USDA data shows.
The value of imports rose by from $1.73 billion to $1.81 billion over the period, while volumes fell slightly from 664,000 metric tons (MT) to 655,000MT.
The biggest uptick in import value was driven by Mexico and Peru.
But all of the top five suppliers - which also include Chile, Brazil and South Africa - also notched year-on-year increases, which were particularly notable in percentage terms for the latter two.
Imports from Mexico rose by 10 percent from $517 million to $568 million. While a big increase on 2020, that figure is still below the record of $589 million set in the 2019 season.
Meanwhile, from Peru imports increased by 2 percent from $533 million to a record $544 million.
From Chile - which remains the biggest table grape to the U.S. despite Peru recently overtaking its southern neighbor as the world's second-largest exporter to all markets - imports rose by 1 percent to $634 million.
Imports from Brazil surged by 55 percent to a record $51 million, while from South Africa they nearly doubled, rising 90 percent to $13 million.
Looking over the five-year period from 2016 to 2021, the table grape import value to the U.S. rose by 21 percent, from $1.5 billion to $1.81 billion.
The volume growth rose at almost the same rate, increasing by 19 percent from 551,000MT to 655,000MT.
The evolution of imports from Chile over the last five years show a significant decline. The $871 million registered in 2016 declined by 28 percent over the next four years to hit a record low of $630 million. In that context, the small increase to $634 million last year is significant, highlighting a turn-around for the industry that has been focusing heavily on varietal reconversion over recent years.
Mexico has seen good growth since 2016, when imports of $397 million were recorded. By 2019, imports had grown to a record $589 million - a 30 percent increase. Trade dropped in 2020, but came close to the record levels in 2021 with $568 million.
But Peru has seen an even more impressive growth curve, with imports into the U.S. more than doubling from just $230 million in 2016 to $544 million - staggering growth of 135 percent.
Looking at Brazil, we can see that although imports to the U.S. remain significantly lower than Chile, Mexico and Peru, the growth over recent years has been impressive considering the low base from years ago. In 2016 imports of just $986,000 were registered, while by 2021, the figure had skyrocketed to $51 million.
South Africa has also seen very impressive growth, also increasing from a low base of $898,000 in 2016 to $13 million last year.