The Thanksgiving feast is entering commerce


As you sit down for your Thanksgiving feast, here’s one more thing to be grateful for – many of the holiday foods you will enjoy are also growing in significance as U.S. exports.

Here are a few examples:

Sweet Corn

Many people know that feed corn is the strongest U.S. export, valued on average at $2 billion annually. But the United States leads the world in sweet corn exports and is a net exporter of fresh sweet corn, shipping twice the volume imported.

During 1998-2000, the United States exported 4 percent of production, while importing just 2 percent of the sweet corn consumed domestically.

In the first five months of calendar year 2000, about 22,000 metric tons of fresh sweet corn were exported, valued at almost $9.5 million.

For the first five months of 2001, the total volume was 23,000 tons, valued at $12 million.


On Thanksgiving, U.S. tables bear fall favorites such as green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts and squash with nutmeg. The good news for U.S. exports is that vegetables of all kinds are selling overseas.

In the first five months of 2000, the United States sold $482 million in fresh vegetables (excluding corn and potatoes) abroad. In the first five months of 2001, exports were valued at $503 million, an increase of 4.3 percent.


Calling all leftovers. Other nations prefer to buy U.S. turkey in pieces – normally they choose mechanically deboned drumsticks and thighs. The meat is then processed into sausages and cold-cuts.

For the first six months of 2001, over 109,000 metric tons of turkey meat was exported – a 14-percent increase over the 96,000 metric tons sold in 2000.

Total sales for the first six months of 2000 were $99.8 million; for the first six months of 2001, total sales were $119.2 million, an increase of about 19 percent.

The USA Poultry and Egg Export Council contributed to that growth in exports for 2001. It held a training workshop to show Russian meat processors how to make the most of U.S. birds.

The result: Russia went from being a negligible importer of our turkey to a market second only to our top buyer, Mexico.


The Cranberry Marketing Committee’s 2000-01 promotional campaigns in Japan and Germany generated over $900,000 worth of print and television publicity.

The campaigns focused on a public relations effort to educate consumers about the health benefits of U.S. cranberries, the versatility of the fruit and its unique flavor attributes. This marketing effort has contributed directly to sales.

In fact, by the end of the 1999-2000 marketing year, sales had risen from 90 metric tons to both Japan and Germany to more than 4,000 tons.

Given the success of its publicity campaign, the committee expects to see additional increases by the end of marketing year 2001.

Sweet Potatoes

The news for this commodity is sweet success.

For the first six months of fiscal year 2000, U.S. exporters of sweet potatoes earned $10 million. For the same period in 2001, the amount earned was $11 million, an increase of 6 percent.

White Potatoes

Americans may prefer their potatoes mashed on Thanksgiving Day, but the world buys our potatoes fried.

In the first five months of 2000, the United States sold $142 million worth of frozen fries. In the first five months of 2001, that figure rose to $149 million – an increase of 4.5 percent.

The U.S. potato industry employs 15,000 people – and there are more than 6,000 potato farms in the United States.

Almonds and Walnuts

On Thanksgiving Day, almonds may be only a snack or side dish, but in the world of U.S. exports, they play a starring role.

Since 1997, exports of almonds have been steadily increasing. In the first five months of calendar year 2000, a total of 69,310 metric tons of U.S. almonds were exported.

In the first five months of 2001, a whopping 73,417 tons were sold. That’s a 5 percent increase.

Comparing the value for the first five months of 2000 and 2001, almonds racked up $182 million in 2000 and $198 million in 2001- an 8 percent increase.

When it comes to walnuts, while the volume of exports went down, the total value rose.

Comparing the first five months of 2000 and 2001, total tonnage of walnuts exported went from 14,301 to 13,616, a decrease of about 5 percent. But value climbed from $37.8 million to $42.5 million-an increase of 12 percent.



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