US Bell Pepper Imports Increase Trend Has Risen Wholesale Prices

Fresh Bell Pepper
United States
Market & Price Trends
Published May 10, 2023
In order to meet local demand, the US has continuously increased its bell pepper imports over the last few years. In 2022, bell pepper imports reached 1.26 million mt, representing a 10% increase from two years ago. The increase has benefited exporters and producers from other countries, such as Mexico and Canada, as well as US consumers that now have a wider and year-round availability for bell peppers in the market. However, with a slight decline in production over the past years and an increasing presence of imported products, the average wholesale price for bell peppers in the US has also risen over the last few years until the first quarter of 2023.

The US has continuously increased its bell pepper imports over the last few years to meet the constant demand in the US fresh bell pepper market. According to the USDA’s recent data, US bell pepper imports went from 1.16 million mt to 1.26 million mt between 2019 and 2022, a significant 10% increase over two years’ time. The increase has benefited producers from other countries, who have seen more opportunities for their products in the US bell pepper market.

US bell pepper production has slightly increased over the last few years. According to the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), the US had a production volume of 520 thousand mt of fresh bell peppers in 2022, 7% higher than the 486 thousand mt in 2021. The increase in bell pepper production lined up with the 2% YoY increase in acreage in 2022 to 31.7 thousand acres from 31 thousand acres in 2021. Bell pepper production is mainly concentrated in California and Florida, with New Jersey and Georgia complementing them slightly with lower volumes.

The annual per capita consumption in the US for fresh bell pepper has slightly increased over the past decade. According to the USDA data, the per capita consumption of bell pepper in 2011 was 4.8 kgs, while in 2021, it increased to 5.1 kgs. As a result, in order to meet the continuous demand in the bell pepper market, the US imports more bell pepper yearly, and conversely, its exports have decreased.

Source: USDA

The US is the global leader in bell pepper imports, with continuously rising demand and shrinking domestic production. As a result, the country has relied heavily on imports, with Mexico as its main supplier. In 2022, Mexico sent a volume of 702 thousand mt of total imports and a value of USD 1.54 billion. However, Mexican bell pepper import volume and value slightly decreased by 4.5% YoY in the US market as there are more bell peppers coming from other origins. Despite this, Mexico remains the main supplier of bell peppers to the US.

Canada is the second-largest supplier of fresh bell peppers to the US, with 167.2 thousand mt imported in 2022, accounting for 7.9% of total imports that year. Until 2019, the Netherlands was the third-largest supplier of fresh bell pepper to the US. However, in 2020 imports from this country fell drastically, and Honduras overtook it.

The wholesale average annual bell pepper price in the US has slightly increased over the last few years. The steady decline in production in recent years and the constant demand for capsicum have led the market to increase its import year after year. 

Source: USDA

In 2022 the average annual price for bell pepper in the US was USD 1.49/kg, compared with USD 1.05/kg in 2021. In terms of import bell pepper prices, in the last month of 2022, bell pepper average prices ranged from USD 1.32/kg to USD 1.85/kg, and in the first quarter of 2023, prices moved to USD 1.15/kg to USD 1.83/kg range.

It is important to note that prices tend to contract at the beginning of the year when there is a higher volume in the market, as production and imports are at their highest. Contrary to the summer, when there is less supply, prices tend to reach their peak. 

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