In the United States, the amount of imported food continues to increase as Americans consume more products that are either not locally available or not grown fast enough to meet demand. The United States imports a wide variety of foods, including fish and shellfish, fruits and nuts, vegetables and red meat. Because of cheaper labor costs overseas, it is sometimes less expensive to buy an imported apple than one grown here at home.

Fish and Shellfish

Variety of raw seafood

The United States imports billions of dollars worth of seafood from China each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Farm-raised seafood such as tilapia, shrimp, salmon and catfish is shipped directly from China. Other imported foods in this category include grouper, haddock, whiting fish, red bream, squid, flounder, Atlantic cod, crab and lobster.

Fruits and Nuts

Mixed nuts and dried fruit

Imports of fresh fruits and nuts steadily increase each year, with Costa Rica and Mexico being the top suppliers, followed closely by China. Nuts come from many different regions: Brazil nuts from South America; cashews from Africa, India and Vietnam; Guatemalan macadamias, and Spanish or Chinese pine nuts are a few. Fresh fruit arrives daily from Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru, including bananas, pineapples, avocados, apples, honeydew melons, blueberries, cantaloupe, mangoes, nectarines and lemons.


Vegetables arranged at produce stand

As is the case with other foods, the United States imports billions of dollars' worth of vegetables from other countries. Mexico dominates the supply of imported vegetables, supplying peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, pinto beans, broccoli, cabbage, onions, lettuce, celery, squash and spinach, to name a few. Other important suppliers like Canada and Peru supply carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms and potatoes.

Red Meat

British Meats in Market

Each year, Canada exports millions head of cattle and pigs to America. Although the United States is one of the world's largest exporters of beef, we still import beef from New Zealand, Uruguay and Australia. Also, the import of veal, pork, lamb and mutton has increased rapidly over the last decades. The USDA states the driving force of the growth includes rising incomes and the preference of U.S. consumers for a greater variety of red meat.