Analytical Reports

Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade: May 2023 ( Quarterly Agricultural Export Forecast)

U.S. Agricultural Exports in Fiscal Year 2023 Forecast Down $3.5 Billion to $181.0 Billion;

Imports at $198.0 Billion, Down $1.0 Billion U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2023 are forecast at $181.0 billion, down $3.5 billion from the February forecast. This revision is driven by decreases in corn, wheat, beef, and poultry exports. Corn exports are forecast $2.1 billion lower to $14.5 billion on lower unit values and volumes as Brazil is poised to harvest a record second crop corn. Wheat exports are projected down $900 million to $7.4 billion due to lower volumes and unit values, as well as increased competition. Overall grain and feed exports are projected $3.3 billion lower at $40.5 billion. Total livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are projected to decrease by $1.2 billion to $39.3 billion, as declines in beef and poultry exports more than offset increases in dairy exports. Soybean exports are projected up $300 million to $32.3 billion on slightly higher volumes. Overall oilseed and product exports are forecast $100 million higher to $43.5 billion. Cotton exports are forecast at $6.0 billion, up $100 million, as higher volumes more than offset lower unit values. Horticultural exports are unchanged at $39.0 billion. The forecast for sugar and tropical product exports is revised up $400 million to $6.4 billion on higher unit values for sugar and cocoa products. Tobacco and product exports are adjusted upward by $400 million due to stronger-than-expected shipments and higher unit values. Ethanol exports are forecast unchanged at $3.6 billion.

The export forecast for China is unchanged at $34.0 billion from February. Exports to Mexico are projected up $500 million to $28.5 billion whereas exports to Canada remain unchanged at $27.8 billion.

U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2023 are projected at $198.0 billion, down $1.0 billion from the February forecast. This decrease is primarily driven by horticultural, livestock, dairy, and poultry product imports.

The forecasts in this report are based on policies in effect at the time of the May 12, 2023, World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) release, and the U.S. production forecasts therein.

Economic Outlook

Economic Growth and Persistent Inflation

The global economic outlook for calendar year (CY) 2023 remains mostly unchanged from the February 2023 Outlook. Inflation remains on a slowing trend, but economic growth challenges are materializing as monetary conditions tighten. North America is still projected to grow moderately, with growth in the Eurozone projected to remain at lower levels. World real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to increase by 2.8 percent in 2023, unchanged from the previous forecast.

In the United States, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (CPI) data indicate inflation is continuing to moderate, although at a slower pace, which indicates more entrenched inflation across the broader economy. Monetary policy changes have a lag time for the effects to fully materialize and inflation rates in the United States remain above the U.S. Federal Reserve’s 2-percent target. Maintaining current trends to return inflation to target rates is a stated policy priority for central banks, while they continue to monitor the financial system for resiliency with rising interest rates.

Projected growth for the United States’ real GDP in 2023 is raised to 1.6 percent from the previous estimate of 1.4 percent. Consumer spending has proven more resilient in the United States than in the Eurozone as spending habits change in the inflationary environment. The April 2023 Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed prices had increased by 4.9 percent over the past 12 months, down from the previous year-over-year mark of 5.0 percent in March. The Federal Reserve has reaffirmed its intention to continue its scheduled interest rate hikes given above-target inflation and the low unemployment rate, last measured at 3.4 percent in April by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Real GDP in North America is expected to grow by a projected 1.6 percent in 2023, raised from 1.4 percent previously. The real GDP forecast for Canada in 2023 is unchanged at 1.5 percent. The forecast for Mexico in 2023 is raised to 1.8 percent from 1.7 percent. Mexico’s economy is expected to benefit from relatively strong demand in the United States, especially in the automotive sector, with trade effects helping to boost the economy.

The forecast for the Eurozone’s economic growth is 0.8 percent in CY 2023, raised from 0.6 percent previously. Rising costs across consumer goods, energy, and food continue to pose challenges for many households. Falling real wages have caused tension with many labor groups, and potential strikes and labor actions hold the potential to cause economic disruptions. The Eurozone’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 7.0 percent in April on an annualized basis, up from 6.9 percent in March. Stubborn inflation figures indicate that inflation is sticky and will be an ongoing challenge to bring down to targeted levels.

South America’s real GDP is projected to grow by 1.0 percent in 2023, down from the previously projected 1.2 percent. Brazil’s GDP is expected to grow 0.9 percent in 2023, down from 1.3 previous estimates and the 2.9 percent recorded for CY 2022. Argentina, the second largest economy in South America, is projected to grow at 0.2 percent, which is down from 5.2 in CY 2022. Peru and Colombia also face slowing growth in the face of heightened inflation and elevated political uncertainty with newly formed Governments. Chile’s economy also faces myriad challenges in CY 2023 including persistent inflation, monetary tightening, and political uncertainty over a planned constitutional revision vote planned for December 2023, leading to a 1.0 percent decline in GDP.

China’s real GDP is expected to grow by 5.2 percent in 2023, raised from 5.0 percent previously. The reopening of the economy has led to stronger growth and projection figures. Japan’s real GDP growth for 2023 is lowered to 1.3 percent from 1.8 percent previously. South Korea’s real GDP growth in 2023 is lowered to 1.5 percent from 1.9 percent, as exports have declined because of lower overseas demand.

Export Products
FY 2023 U.S. grain and feed exports are forecast at $40.5 billion, down $3.3 billion from the February forecast, as wheat and corn exports are down on lower U.S. supplies and increased competition from other suppliers. Corn exports are forecast at $14.5 billion, down $2.1 billion from the previous forecast on both lower unit values and volumes. Brazil is forecast to have a record production for its upcoming safrinha crop, to be harvested starting in June 2023, which has eased global prices and made Brazil’s corn more price competitive than U.S. corn. Sorghum exports are forecast at $800 million, unchanged from the previous quarter. Feeds and fodders exports are forecast at $10.6 billion, down $100 million from the February forecast, as lower volumes more than offset higher unit values. Wheat exports are forecast at $7.4 billion, down $900 million from the previous forecast on lower volumes and unit values. U.S. wheat export volumes are forecast down significantly due to smaller-than-expected winter wheat production for 2023/24 on higher acreage abandonment and reduced yields amidst drought conditions. U.S. wheat exports also face increased competition in Western Hemisphere markets from regional competitors Canada and Argentina. Unit values are forecast lower on global price pressure based on generally favorable conditions to date for Northern Hemisphere wheat crops outside the United States including Canada, the European Union (EU), and Russia. Rice exports are forecast down $100 million at $1.8 billion, with reduced shipments to Japan and South Korea due to record high U.S. prices, more than offsetting increased sales of long grain rice to Latin America and Iraq.

Oilseed and products exports are forecast at $43.5 billion, a $100-million increase from the February forecast. Soybean export value is up marginally to $32.3 billion on a slightly improved trade volume outlook. Soybean meal export volume also increased, with export value up $100 million to $6.3 billion. Soybean oil exports are reduced $200 million from the previous forecast as export volumes are forecast at the lowest levels in decades. This reflects a large premium for U.S. soybean oil compared with competitors due to strong biomass-based diesel demand in the United States. Other oilseeds are down on reductions in volumes of cottonseed, rapeseed oil, and industrial fatty alcohols.

Cotton exports are forecast up $100 million from the February forecast to $6.0 billion on higher volumes, which more than offsets lower unit values. U.S. market share of global exports is expected to rise relative to the previous forecast and displace Brazilian and Indian cotton.

Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are lowered $1.2 billion to $39.3 billion as lower beef and poultry estimates outweigh gains in dairy. Beef exports are down $700 million to $9.3 billion as weaker unit values for beef muscle cuts more than offset firm shipments to Mexico and East Asia. Poultry and products are lowered $300 million to $6.7 billion largely on a weaker outlook for chicken paw shipments to China. Pork exports are unchanged. Dairy exports are up $100 million to $8.9 billion on higher-than-expected volumes of non-fat dry milk, cheese, lactose, and whey.

Horticultural products are unchanged from the February forecast at $39.0 billion. Whole and processed tree nuts are unchanged at $9.0 billion, with most shipments destined for the EU and Asia. Processed fruits and vegetables are unchanged at $7.3 billion on steady shipments to Canada. Fresh fruit and vegetables are unchanged at $7.1 billion on stable shipments to top markets Canada and Mexico.

Ethanol exports remain unchanged from February forecast at $3.6 billion. This is 11 percent below last year’s record value, but still the second highest on record. Historically high export unit value is supported by persistently elevated corn and gasoline prices. Export volume is forecast one-quarter below the 2018 record of 1.6 billion gallons. U.S. exports to South Korea, the EU, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and nearly all key markets falter due to inflation and cost-of-living squeeze, which dampens fuel demand, and weak manufacturing activity, which lowers demand for ethanol used in nonfuel applications. Competitive pricing from Brazil in previous months undercut U.S. sales to several markets and sales to Brazil remain minimal. Canada remains the current bright spot for U.S. ethanol exports mainly due to higher fuel blending in Ontario. Sales volume to Canada for the first 6 months of the fiscal year were up 35 percent pushing its share of U.S. ethanol exports to 40 percent.

Regional Exports


Compared with February, the export forecast for Japan is down $2.0 billion to $12.0 billion, on account of slack shipments of corn, beef, and wheat, as well as weaker price outlooks for these commodities.
Forecast exports to China are unchanged at $34.0 billion, with record soybean exports offsetting lower corn, wheat, and beef sales.
The export forecast for South Korea is reduced by $1.0 billion to $8.5 billion, primarily due to lower prices of beef. In addition, year-to-date beef volume shipments are down 4 percent. The export forecast for Southeast Asia is down a collective $300 million, with downward adjustments to the Philippines and Thailand.
The export forecast for the Philippines is lowered by $100 million to $3.7 billion, mainly a result of sluggish wheat sales. Exports to Thailand are forecast at $1.3 billion, a $200-million reduction due to lower soybean and wheat exports. Forecast exports to India are down $300 million to $1.7 billion partly on lower sales of ethanol.

Western Hemisphere

The export forecast for Mexico is up $500 million from the February projection to $28.5 billion, largely driven by strong sales of soybeans, dairy products, pork, and corn.
Forecast exports to the Dominican Republic are up $100 million to $2.0 billion on stronger than expected sales of tobacco and pork.
The export forecast for Central America is down $500 million, primarily due to anemic corn and wheat sales.
Forecast exports to South America are down $200 million on account of lower corn shipments to Colombia.

Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania

Exports to the EU are forecast at $12.2 billion, up $400 million from the previous projection, largely due to higher shipments of soybeans, soybean meal, and tobacco.
In Africa, exports to Egypt are forecast $400 million lower to $1.8 billion, primarily due to persistent weakness in soybean demand. Exports to Nigeria are forecast down $100 million on lower wheat shipments.

Import Products
The agricultural imports forecast for FY 2023 is decreased from the previous forecast to $198.0 billion. This represents a $1.0-billion decrease from the previous forecast and a $4.0-billion increase above FY 2022 imports of $194.0 billion. Despite the moderate change to the total import value, there have been some notable changes to import flows. Horticultural products, livestock, dairy, and poultry as well as sugar and tropical products are revised downward. In contrast, grains and feed, and oilseeds and products are adjusted upward.

Broadly speaking, the reduction in trade value is partially associated with declines in unit values across many commodities from their peaks in FY 2022. These declines may be in response to slowing economic growth, in both the United States and across the globe, as well as the dollar’s moderating value relative to many other currencies.

Livestock, poultry, and dairy imports are lowered $1.1 billion to $25.7 billion on lower estimates for all product groups except dairy. For beef, lower unit values are expected to fully offset slightly higher shipments from Canada and Oceania, thus driving beef imports down $700 million to $8.5 billion. Poultry and products are lowered $400 million to $1.0 billion, due partially to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) restrictions on Chile’s shipments of chicken and turkey meat. Live cattle imports are expected to fall $200 million to $2.0 billion given tightening feeder cattle supplies in Canada. Pork imports are forecast down $100 million on continued strong domestic production meeting weaker than anticipated demand. Dairy imports are up $500 million due to higher unit values and volumes of butter and cheese.

Horticultural products, the largest import commodity group, are revised down by $800 million to $99.1 billion. This revision represents a change of less than 1 percent from the previous estimate and mainly reflects lower forecast demand of high-value consumer products (e.g., wine and distilled spirits). Despite this downward revision from last quarter’s forecast, horticultural product imports are forecast to increase 2 percent over FY 2022.

Within horticultural products, seeking year-round supply of products produced competitively abroad remains an ongoing trend for consumers. To this end, the forecasts for fresh vegetables and processed fruits were adjusted upwards. Fresh vegetables were revised up $400 million to $12.2 billion largely on strong imports from Mexico, though fresh vegetable and potato import values from Canada also increased in the first half of the fiscal year. Processed fruits are increased from the previous projection by $300 million, or 4 percent, to $8.6 billion. A considerable share of this growth is attributed to increased fruit juice imports, which were increased by $300 million, largely on strong imports from Brazil. This value increase in fruit juice is matched with a volume increase of 0.5 billion liters to 5.6 billion liters, which represents a 2- percent increase over FY 2022.

The product groups of fresh fruits, nuts, wine, beer, and distilled spirits are all reduced from the previous forecast. The $200-million, or 1-percent, decrease in expected fresh fruit import value is partially due to lower unit values as well as slowing expected import volumes from select countries such as Chile and Mexico in the case of avocados. Wine, beer, and distilled spirits imports are forecast to decrease by $200, $100, and $600 million from the previous forecast to $7.8, $6.9, and $11.5 billion, respectively, on moderating demand for higher priced foreign goods. Nut imports also continue to decline and are reduced from the previous forecast by $300 million to $2.5 billion, well below the $3.0 billion imported in FY 2022. These reductions are distributed amongst a broad range of nuts and countries but the major suppliers from Southeast Asia such as Vietnam, Philippines, and Thailand are responsible for the largest loss. These Southeast Asian countries supply the majority of cashews and coconut products. Cut flowers are also reduced $100 million on lower-than-expected exports from Colombia.

U.S. imports of sugar and tropical products are adjusted down $300 million, or 1 percent, from the previous forecast to $29.9 billion in FY 2023, which is $800 million above FY 2022. This is largely due to reductions in the coffee forecast. U.S. sugar imports are unchanged from previous forecasts as above-average global sugar prices are expected to offset any reductions in U.S. import demand of sweeteners.

Coffee imports are revised down $300 million from the previous estimate to $9.6 billion. Coffee prices have eased from the levels of the previous fiscal year. As global coffee supplies remain tight, coffee exports from key South American exporting countries, such as Colombia, are relatively weak leading to relatively stronger imports from Central America. The easing of unit values, coupled with some supply limitations and weakening demand, underlie the moderate decline in import volumes of 0.1 million metric tons since the previous forecast.

The FY 2023 forecast for grains and feed product imports is adjusted up $500 million, or 2 percent, from the previous forecast to $21.1 billion. Grain and feed imports to the United States in the first half of FY 2023 have been strong with much of this increase coming from Canada, especially in the form of wheat. While import volumes in the first half of FY 2023 have been strong, grain prices have begun to retreat in recent months, helping to moderate import values in the second half of the fiscal year. However, much of the product group’s increase is associated with processed grain products, which include consumer food products such as baked goods. These manufactured goods account for $500 million of the category adjustment and may prove slower to demonstrate receding prices. Canada is the largest supplier of grain products followed by Mexico and the EU, all of which have been supplying an increasing value of such goods to the United States throughout the first two quarters of the fiscal year.

The FY 2023 forecast for oilseeds and products is raised by $700 million from last quarter to $18.3 billion, largely on increased imports of vegetable oils. Higher imports are due in part to the relatively tight domestic oilseed conditions caused by higher Federal and State biofuel mandates as well as increased renewable diesel capacity in the United States. Higher import volumes of canola oil, particularly from Canada, are expected after the EPA approved its use in renewable diesel last December. Palm oil imports are also strong coming largely from Indonesia. Often, other products in this group are used as biofuel and feedstocks, including chemically processed oils and fatty acids, which are also experiencing increased imports as high global energy prices drive an already-high demand for these products.

The FY 2023 forecast for “other imports”, which is made up of cotton, tobacco, planting seeds, and ethanol, is unchanged from the February forecast at $3.9 billion.

Regional Imports

Western Hemisphere

Imports from the Western Hemisphere are forecast to increase by $800 million over the previous forecast to $116.8 billion, representing a 1-percent adjustment. The change in forecast is largely associated with adjustments made to imports from Canada, which are adjusted up $1.4 billion, or 4 percent, from the previous forecast to $38.7 billion. This is due to increased import values for grain, grain products, and canola oil. Mexico, the United States’ largest source of imports, is forecast down $200 million, or 1 percent, from the previous forecast to $46.2 billion. Much of the reduction comes from reduced livestock and poultry imports. However, the growth of fruit imports from Mexico is expected to slow slightly from the previous forecast.

The forecast for Central America is unchanged from the previous forecast. However, an upward revision of $100 million to Guatemala reflects strong fruit, coffee, and sugar-related product exports to the United States. Other Central American countries, led by Nicaragua, were revised down $100 million.

Imports from South America are adjusted down $300 million from the previous forecast to $22.1 billion. This change is associated with a downward revision of $400 million to Chile. Already in the first half of the fiscal year, Chile has experienced reduced exports to the United States in several of its major product categories including fruits, poultry, and wine. This is due, in part, to ongoing drought concerns, HPAI restrictions on exports of poultry, as well as heightened political and market uncertainties.


Imports from the EU for FY 2023 are forecast at $35.6 billion, down $300 million from the February forecast. Imports from the EU in the first half of the fiscal year have been strong. However, drought in parts of Europe is expected to have some lasting negative effects on the agricultural sector. Further, easing of the U.S. dollar-to-Euro exchange rate makes EU imports less competitive and high costs in EU continue to be a drag on high-value manufactured goods. Such goods including wine, distilled spirits, and essential oils are among the most important goods imported by the United States. These goods are also expected to be the most affected by the slowing U.S. and global economies. Imports from the United Kingdom (U.K.) are increased $300 million from the previous FY 2023 forecast to $2.3 billion. This adjustment brings the U.K. just below the import level of FY 2022.


The forecast for FY 2023 imports from Asia is revised down $2.1 billion to $28.9 billion, which is 7 percent below the previous estimate and 1 percent below FY 2022. This reduction is facilitated by a weaking dollar in much of East and Southeast Asia.

Imports from East Asia are reduced by $600 million. Of this $600-million reduction, $400 million comes from “Other East Asia,” which includes Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Although the reductions come from a broad range of products, horticultural products make up the largest component. China is also reduced by $200 million to $4.4 billion, which is 10 percent below FY 2022. These reductions also are distributed broadly across product groups and are largely due to the slower-than-expected economic recovery of China’s economy following the easing of Coronavirus lockdowns.

Southeast Asia is revised downward by $1.6 billion to $17.3 billion, resulting in an 8-percent reduction from the previous FY 2023 forecast and a 1-percent decrease from FY 2022. Products in the region responsible for this decline were largely tree nuts, coconut products, and vegetable oil products. Indonesia is revised downward by $400 million on moderating price and slowing exports of vegetable oil and fatty acids that have been diverted to the domestic biofuels industry. Despite the reduction, imports from Indonesia, at $5.3 billion, remain above FY 2022. Vietnam is adjusted downward by $200 million on reductions in tree nut exports, especially cashews, which represent Vietnam’s largest product group exported to the United States. This brings imports from Vietnam to $2.3 billion which is 12 percent below FY 2022. Thailand is adjusted downward by $400 million from the February forecast, to $3.1 billion. This adjustment is largely associated with reduced rice imports as well as a broad spectrum of horticultural products including fruits, vegetables, and nuts. “Other Southeast Asia” is adjusted downward by $600 million to $5.5 billion, which remains 2 percent above FY 2022. Rationale for the reduction follows that of other countries in Southeast Asia.


The forecast for imports from Oceania is raised by $100 million from the previous forecast to $7.4 billion in FY 2023. These changes are largely associated with a $100-million upward revision to Australia on the increased exports of processed grain products and chemically treated fats/oils to the United States. With the revision, the FY 2023 import value from Oceania is forecast at 7 percent below FY 2022.

Africa and Middle East

The forecast for imports from Africa in FY 2023 is increased $100 million from the previous forecast to $4.3 billion. This growth comes from Sub-Saharan Africa, as imports from North Africa are expected to decline. Sub-Saharan Africa’s imports are forecast to increase by $200 million despite Côte d'Ivoire’s $300-million negative adjustment. Côte d'Ivoire’s reduction is in anticipation of a weak second cocoa crop, although despite the adjustment it remains well above FY 2022, which is partly due to strong cocoa prices.

Imports from the Middle East in FY 2023 are increased from the previous forecast by $100 million, largely driven by Turkey’s vegetable oils and processed grain products. For example, Turkey had a large olive crop in FY 2022 contrasting the poor crop across Southern Europe, leading to larger than previously expected export values in FY 2023.

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