Skip to Main Content

The international trade of U.S. organic agri-food products: export opportunities, import competition and policy impacts

Published Date October 12, 2022
Research Topic
Research Type
Authors Neal Hooker

Abstract

International markets are an important destination and source of U.S. organic agri-food products. This paper offers new insights concerning the current status and trends of U.S. organic imports and exports U.S. policies relevant to the international trade of U.S. organic agri-food products are described, characterizing specific products and partners. In addition, the impact of organic equivalency agreements (OEAs), which the U.S. has signed with Canada, the EU, Japan, South Korea and Switzerland, are examined to determine the extent to which they facilitate trade. Using highly disaggregated international trade data (HS-10) from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Statistics Canada, this analysis finds that fresh agricultural products dominate both U.S. exports and imports. Between 2017 and 2019, apples grapes, strawberries and spinach were the predominant fresh exports, while tomato sauces, vinegar and roasted coffee are the most exported processed food products. A significant majority of these exports are destined for Canada and Mexico. The most imported organic agri-food products include unroasted coffee, bananas, olive oil and soybeans. There is much more diversity in the country of origin of these imports with Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Spain and Argentina among the major organic food suppliers to the U.S. OEAs allow for mutual recognition of national organic standards between countries. This analysis finds that, while, in aggregate, OEAs were not found to impact U.S. organic imports or exports, results evaluating individual agreements do suggest that they can be effective trade policy instruments. In particular, the U.S.–Canada and the U.S.–Switzerland OEAs were found to be effective in facilitating U.S. exports. Taken together these findings offer important insights into current trade patterns, and U.S. international market and organic policy opportunities.