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Foreign Agricultural Land Holdings to Face Increased Scrutiny

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Foreign Agricultural Land Holdings to Face Increased Scrutiny

The Agriculture Foreign Investment Disclosure Act (AFIDA) was passed in 1978. The act states that all foreign persons (and entities) who acquire, hold, or transfer agricultural land interests must report those holdings and/or transactions to the Secretary of Agriculture (part of the US Department of Agriculture). Those who fail to do so are subject to penalties from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, the entity tasked with the public inspection. As of December 31, 2020, the Farm Service Agency reported that foreign-held acres numbered 37.6 million. While that might sound like a considerable amount, those who track foreign investments posit this number is severely under-counted.

A bipartisan act introduced by Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana, and Mike Braun, a Republican from Indiana, aims to strengthen AFIDA. The Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act of 2023 would prohibit the purchase of land by anyone directly associated with a host of governments – namely, North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia. Support for the measure has strengthened as cases of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) affiliated entities acquiring property adjacent to American military bases come to light.

 High-profile examples such as a prominent Chinese agriculture company, Fufeng Group, attempting to purchase property near Grand Forks Airbase (North Dakota) and a billionaire tightly connected to the CCP successfully acquiring hundreds of thousands of acres near the Texas Val Verde Air Force base rung alarms. The USDA is being scrutinized more heavily after some members of Congress uncovered improper management and reporting of foreign purchases. The new reform would raise the maximum fine to 30 percent (from 25 percent) of the property’s value and permit the USDA to impose liens on the property in extreme cases.

Moreover, the bill pressures the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to take a more active role in assessing the effectiveness of AFIDA and its administration. For a government as big as the United States, from 2000 to 2022 there were only a handful of employees working directly on AFIDA. This is clearly insufficient. Supporters of the bill point to data transparency as one of the critical improvements. To access the USDA’s annual reports on US foreign land investment one must make a Freedom of Information Act request. This bill, however, requires the USDA to make the AFIDA database completely public, thus bypassing an often-onerous administrative step (that few engage in).

The farm bill is up for reauthorization this year. It is expected that the Protecting America’s Agricultural Land from Foreign Harm Act will be added as an amendment to the bill, part of a set of legislation passed every five years.

US Agriculture

US Agriculture Companies Expect Another Banner Year 

China’s Covid-19 rebound and elevated crop prices are poised to make 2023 another potent year for US agriculture. US net farm 2022 income reached its highest level since 1973 (adjusting for inflation). Corn and wheat prices skyrocketed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine with some regions noting up to a 19% jump from 2021. This is encouraging news for farming, but high inflation has also increased grocery prices for the rest of the economy. 

Demand for livestock feed, vegetable oils, and crops (according to grain-trading middlemen Bunge Ltd. and Archer Daniels Midland Co) is expected to remain strong this year. As China continues to open up, imports will naturally rise and keep US farm coffers flush with revenue. Bunge and Archer Daniels Midland generally perform well in the face of trade volatility and crop shortages in other parts of the world. ADM registered an impressive 2022 profit jump of 60% (compared to 2021) and Bunge just reported an 8% increase in earnings for the year. 

Meanwhile, grain exports have been slowly trickling out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. This was part of a larger export deal with Russia. While touted as an olive branch of sorts, US Department of Agriculture data notes that the level of exports is still far off from pre-war/Covid times. China’s pent-up demand is very similar to what occurred in the US in 2022. As the country opens Archer Daniels Midland expects a boom in demand for soybean oil and livestock feed for biofuels. Yet, prognostications are fragile as geopolitical tensions, especially around Taiwan, could derail any short-term gains. 

With high grain prices, farmers are expected to augment planting throughout 2023. Farm Progress, a research arm of Informa, anticipates corn acres surpassing 90 million for the year. This would be a 2% increase over last year. Another variable to keep an eye on, however, is weather changes. Multiple years of drought-like conditions have nudged wheat and hay prices higher. Yet, the winter did bring strong precipitation and snow in western US states. 

Net farm income is projected to hit $137 billion in 2023. To put this in perspective, the 20-year farm income average has been $108 billion (adjusted for inflation). $137 billion is a great year, but still down slightly from one of the largest farm net income years – 2021 at $141 billion.    

2022 was a very good year for the agriculture industry and despite incomes facing a slim downward trajectory, expect 2023 to be another boom for US agriculture. 



Five ways the war in Ukraine will change the world’s economy

The war in Ukraine is a tragedy that will continue to play out for months, with an uncertain ending as far as the sad cost in human life, new alignments in global geopolitics and the stunning damage that will be done to the economies in countries beyond just Russia and Ukraine. Even though the repercussions of this war will reverberate for decades, we can already identify some trends that will impact the global economy in the future.  As with any volatile trade and economic situation, there will be clear losers (the Russian economy), but there will also be potent secondary developments that arise as a result of this aggressive invasion of a democratic, Western-oriented Ukraine.


Energy Security / Renewable Energy

The U.S. and EU have spent decades wringing their hands over the Transatlantic joint dependence on oil and gas from ‘bad actors’, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.  In the last few weeks, attempts to punish Russia economically have been hamstrung due to the fact that much of Europe still receives about half of its gas from Russia, an impossible dependency when it comes to confronting Russia for its illegal actions in Ukraine. While the ‘fracking revolution’ has assisted the U.S. to a certain level of energy independence, a sizeable portion of the nation’s oil still comes from unreliable external sources. The irony of Russia’s attack on a democratic Ukraine is that it might finally push the U.S. and EU to commit to a substantive, immediate and dedicated pursuit of renewable energy sources for which environmental activists and innovative business leaders have been lobbying for decades.  Renewable energy’s strongest proponent just became the national security crowd.

Defense Spending – Globally

The same national security concerns will also lead to a huge rise in defense spending from EU and other nations.  Germany’s proposed budget increase alone will be a critical shot in the arm for the European defense industry, but we can assume that other nations that have put off investments in this area were shaken by Russia’s willingness to break global norms and attack Ukraine and will respond with substantial budget increases.  Images of Turkish Bayraktar drones destroying Russian armor and video of the U.S.-made Javelin helping to stymie the 7th largest army in the world are going to change how smaller nations structure their arms inventory.  More importantly, Russia’s actions have disabused any remaining doubters of the notion that a country like Russia will ‘play by the rules’ of international law in the modern era.  If Russia can so brazenly violate their international agreements and obligations, then so can China – and that realization will have a substantive domino effect on the planning and defense expenditures of everyone from Finland to the Philippines.

Wheat and Foodstuffs – Even Greater Price Inflation

Russia and Ukraine accounted for 30% of the global wheat trade prior to this conflict. But that is not the only food product that will be taken off of the market as a result of the war – sunflower oil, corn and other key products will either be destroyed (or unplanted) as a result of the fighting or will be locked inside Russia’s domestic market due to sanctions and the inevitable tariffs.  The rest of the world will see massive price increases and shortages in certain foodstuffs.  Combined with the global surge in inflation and increasing transportation costs, many global food-producing companies will struggle to provide products that are affordable for their usual clients.  If there is a silver lining to this cloud, it is that locally-sourced products and wheat-alternatives (rice, corn, bulgur) should see a boom in demand.

Cybersecurity and Information Warfare

Russia and China have been fighting a shadow war with the U.S. and EU in the cyber realm for years, but this conflict has pushed that fight into the light of day.  U.S. and European struggles with Russian governmental and pseudo-governmental cyber strikes (from denial of service attacks to outright hacks for information and funds, as well as documented attempts to impact elections in both regions) should have the same impact on corporate and governmental cybersecurity spending as watching Russian tanks roll into Ukraine did for defense spending.  No one wants to be the easy target in this war and corporations that took some risk and saved money on cybersecurity will be scampering to close those gaps as quickly as they can.  Russian desperation to get at global fund sources in the next few months dramatically increases the risk of pseudo-governmental ransomware attacks, and the information warfare we are seeing between Russia/China and the rest of the world is astoundingly blunt (and for Ukraine, remarkably effective in generating global support).  The gloves are off.  Is your company ready to defend its business interests from cyber and information / reputational attacks?

A More Unified, Emboldened EU

The last month has been a litmus test for EU leadership, and they have come out looking much more poised and united than anyone would have believed.  Should they have taken this threat more seriously in the last decade?  Absolutely.  Have they tolerated Putin-loving populists in the EU club for years (Orban, Zeman, Le Pen, Salvini)?  Sadly, yes.  But all of that changed when Russia headed for Kyiv.  Member state leaders closed ranks and the EU turned from a reluctant bystander into ardent supporters of Ukrainian defense efforts in a few short weeks.  From an economic perspective, this more unified and confident EU will disrupt a number of patterns.  They’re likely going to be much more aggressive in nurturing and protecting their internal innovation in technology and defense.  They will redouble efforts to reduce their dependency on external energy sources (to the benefit of renewable technologies, electric vehicle innovations, the nuclear industry and even public transportation ventures).  Most importantly, they can be expected to be stronger proponents of democratic ideals in their foreign political and business affairs.  Countries (and companies) that interact with this new EU will likely find that they are much more insistent on ESG concerns and support for human rights, democratic principles and adherence to the rule of law.


Kirk Samson is a Director at the International Trade Association of Greater Chicago.  He is a former U.S. diplomat and spent ten years as an international law advisor for the Department of Defense.



Manufacturers operate complex supply chains that, in many cases, involve the movement of raw materials and resources from different parts of the world into their factories. 

It is an ever-moving puzzle. Indeed, manufacturing firms are often at the mercy of a range of factors outside of their control that can lead to disruptions, difficulties and, in extreme circumstances, halts in production. 

A timely reminder of this came in March when a 400-meter-long container vessel, the Ever Given, ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking the waterway that is responsible for the safe passage of billions of dollars’ worth of goods and materials every year. Around 12% of global trade, including 1 million barrels of oil and 8% of liquefied natural gas, passes through the canal each day.

The blockage, caused by high winds, took six days to unjam and even took a human life in the process. Hundreds of other vessels were also delayed, a pile up which is thought to have consisted of almost $10 billion of goods.  

Meanwhile, as well as relying on the safe passage of goods from around the world, manufacturers are also having to take sustainability issues more seriously than ever before. 

In November, world leaders, including President Joe Biden, gathered in the U.K. for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, better known as COP26. Here, several key pledges were made to help move the world toward carbon neutrality, and there is no doubt that private sector organizations will have to play their parts in helping societies to successfully transition. In many cases, this could mean reassessing supply chains and the origin of key materials.  

Indeed, what if such materials were able to be sourced closer to home? 

There are various studies pointing toward consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for more sustainable products. IBM, for example, found that 57% of consumers are willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce negative environmental impacts, with 70% saying they would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands which are sustainable. Cheaper sourcing from abroad, it seems, could be compensated by customers who are willing to pay more for home-grown products. 

And the U.S. is home to an abundance of natural resources that are already supporting key manufacturing endeavors. Here, we explore just a few examples across states that can offer certain nearby manufacturers a competitive advantage.  


The U.S. is home to some vast areas of woodland that support key industries reliant on this versatile raw material. 

Globally, demand for wood-based products is steady. Indeed, the wood manufacturing market is projected to reach $502 billion in value by 2027, up from $442 billion in 2020–growing at a compound annual growth rate of 1.8% during the period. 

In America, according to the U.S. Forest Service, the forest products industry is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 48 states. In terms of finances, this activity generates more than $200 billion a year in sales and pays about $54 billion in wages. 

The total amount of land covered by forests in the country is estimated to be around 750 million acres, with Alaska by far the most forested state. Oregon and California follow in second and third respectively. 

Several key industries are supported by this abundance of wood resources, including paper and pulp, furniture and construction. Moreover, around two thirds of American forested land is timberland, which is capable of producing industrially utilized wood. 


States home to a thriving agricultural scene could provide homegrown advantages to all manner of businesses, especially those operating in the food production supply chain. 

While there are many factors which determine the attractiveness of an area in regard to farming, soil quality is arguably the most important. 

In the U.S., mollisols are widely recognized to be the best growing soils due to a range of properties–namely, they are extremely fertile and of neutral pH. 

Resultantly, they constitute a large part of the country’s Wheat Belt and the wheat-growing area of Palouse in eastern Washington, with Illinois and Iowa also home to this favorable farming soil. 

Vermont is another state recognized for its high soil quality. While home to a variety, its official state soil is Tunbridge, which is described as “loamy and acidic” in nature. The state equally ranks highly across several factors such as farming infrastructure and investment. 

Agriculture also thrives in Nebraska. Here, the official state soil is Holdrege, which facilitates high yields because of its natural fertility and excellent moisture retention capacity. This translates into financials, with Nebraska’s corn yields being the third largest in the U.S. and worth $6.3 billion in 2018. 

California, however, is by far the country’s most prolific agricultural state. According to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, California is responsible for 13.5% of all agricultural revenue in America. 

In 2020, the state recorded receipts of more than $49 billion across all agricultural commodities, nearly double that of Iowa ($26.2 billion) and 2.5 times the value of agricultural activity in Texas ($20.2 billion). 

There are many reasons why California is so well suited to growing crops. Not only is the western state home to some extremely fertile soil, but its climatic conditions also ensure the most is made of the quality of the land. It is the leading producer of a range of commodities, including wheat, lemons, oranges, grapes and avocados, and is among the most prolific grower of commonly consumed vegetables such as onions, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Indeed, California produces more than 200 varieties of crops, with some being exclusive to the territory. 

This translates into an enticing prospect for businesses which rely on or work with a vast array of farmed ingredients. Rather than ship them in from abroad, setting up or sourcing from closer to home could provide sustainability, financial and risk-reducing supply chain advantages.


As well as abundant forests and vast swathes of prime agricultural land, the United States is also home to an array of minerals that serve all kinds of industrial activities. 

In 2020, mines across the country produced more than $82 billion worth of minerals, according to figures released in the 26th annual Mineral Commodity Summaries report from the USGS National Minerals Information Center. 

“Industries–such as steel, aerospace and electronics–that use nonfuel mineral materials created an estimated $3.03 trillion in value-added products in 2020,” said Steven M. Fortier, director of the USGS National Minerals Information Center.

In terms of metals, mine production in 2020 was estimated to be $27.7 billion, which is around 3% higher than that in 2019. 

Key contributors to this total value were gold (38%), copper (27%), iron ore (15%) and zinc (6%), with a total of 12 mineral commodities each having been mined at a value of more than $1 billion in 2020.

Geographically, several states are home to sizeable mineral mining activities. In 2020, 12 states each produced more than $2 billion worth of nonfuel mineral commodities. The states, ranked in descending order of production value, were: Nevada, Arizona, Texas, California, Minnesota, Florida, Alaska, Utah, Missouri, Michigan, Wyoming and Georgia.

It is also important to note that some industries in the U.S. rely heavily on imports. In 2020, imports made up more than one half of U.S. consumption for 46 nonfuel mineral commodities, with 17 minerals being wholly imported. These imported minerals are key materials for a range of industrial endeavors, including renewable energy generation and storage, as well as infrastructure technologies.

However, there is no doubt that the U.S. offers opportunities for enterprises reliant on a range of mineral resources, as shown by those 12 states that achieved more than $2 billion in output. 

Here, we explore a few of the country’s most abundant and valuable mineral commodities: 


Gold needs no introduction. One of the most iconic minerals, it has symbolized prosperity and formed the basis of currency through the ages. 

However, gold also carries a huge number of industrial uses that stretch far beyond coinage and blocks being stored in bank vaults, thanks to a myriad of special and diverse properties that make it incredibly useful. Some of these include being a conductor of electricity, non-tarnishing, very easy to work and able to be drawn into wire and hammered into thin sheets. Moreover, gold can be melted and cast into highly detailed shapes, offering a unique and appealing color and a desirable sheen.

All of this means gold is highly sought after across many industrial practices and sectors. In electronics, for example, devices use very low voltages and currents which are easily interrupted by corrosion or tarnishing at various contact points. Gold is a reliable conductor that can overcome this problem. Indeed, it will be found in almost every sophisticated electronic device, from smartphones and calculators to GPS systems and home assistants like Alexa. 

In terms of gold production in the U.S., the west of the country is where most deposits are found. Nevada and Alaska are the states that lead the production rankings from both lode mines and placer deposits, these feeding primarily into jewelry, electronics and coin-making activities.

In 2016, around $8.5 billion of gold was produced across the U.S., translating into 209 metric tons.   

Crushed stone 

Somewhat less glamourous than gold, crushed stone is an equally important mineral commodity produced in high quantities and serving critical industrial activity. 

According to USGS National Minerals Information Center figures for 2016 (the most recent available), the value of American crushed stone output, which includes limestone, dolomite and granite, reached $16.2 billion. 

The vast majority of crushed stone supplies the construction and ongoing upkeep of the United States’ transportation network. In 2016, more than three quarters of crushed stone went into road construction and maintenance, with another 11% going into cement manufacturing activities and 7% being used in lime production.  

Companies working with these materials (especially those producing various construction aggregates) will therefore likely be based in states where crushed stone output is highest in order to gain a proximity advantage. This is important, as crushed stone is a heavy material of relatively low value per ton, meaning any savings that can be made on transport will greatly increase financial viability. 

A handful of states are resultantly responsible for more than half of the U.S. production of crushed stone. These are Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky. It should also be noted that small amounts of crushed stone are imported from the likes of Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas. 


Another important mineral supplying the construction sector is copper. One of the first metals ever mined and used by humans, it has played an influential role in the shaping and evolution of civilizations. 

It remains the fifth most valuable mineral mined in the United States. In 2016, 1.41 million metric tons were produced, generating $6.8 billion in revenue–most of it deriving from sites in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Montana and Michigan. 

Some 44% of this copper supported construction sector activities, with 19% being used in the production of transportation equipment and another 18% going into electric and electronic products. 


Record Production in 2022 to Curb Corn Price Growth

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Maize – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

In 2022, corn prices are projected to drop by approximately 10% y/y due to an expected all-time record high global production, which is to reach 1.2B tonnes. This forecast is subject to a number of risks, such as volatile fertilizer and energy prices, high freight rates, biofuel policies and weather conditions.

Corn prices are forecast to ease in 2022 due to a sharp increase in global production. The world’s corn output is to soar by 7% y/y to a record 1.2B tonnes with higher crops in the U.S. and South America. Production in Brazil is expected to rise by 31% y/y to 114M tonnes, fully recovering from the last year’s 15%-drop caused by a drought. Argentine farmers are to harvest 54M tonnes of corn, 5% more than a year earlier. U.S. production will grow by 7% y/y to 384M tonnes.

Crop increases are also forecast in China, the E.U., Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa. Significant output growth is projected in Russia and Ukraine, where corn production is to rise by 8% y/y to 15M tonnes and by 39% y/y to 42M tonnes, respectively.

According to World Bank data, the average annual price for U.S. corn (no. 2, yellow, FOB, U.S. Gulf ports) grew by 57% y-o-y to $260 per tonne in 2021. This year, the price is projected to drop by approx. 10% y/y with sufficient supply, but rising fertilizer and energy prices, logistic tensions, changing biofuel policies and weather conditions still pose risks on price stability.

World’s Largest Corn Importers

In 2020, approx. 146M tonnes of maize were imported worldwide, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year. In value terms, maize imports stood at $35.9B (IndexBox estimates).

Japan (16M tonnes), Viet Nam (12M tonnes), South Korea (12M tonnes), China (11M tonnes), Egypt (8.5M tonnes), Spain (8.1M tonnes), Colombia (6.2M tonnes), Italy (6.1M tonnes), the Netherlands (5.9M tonnes), Taiwan (Chinese) (4.4M tonnes), Malaysia (3.8M tonnes) and Germany (3.8M tonnes) represented the major importer of maize in the world, generating 67% of total volume. Peru (3.8M tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

The most notable growth rate of purchases, amongst the leading importing countries, was attained by China. Its volume of imports grew twofold in 2020.

In value terms, Japan ($3.3B), China ($2.5B) and Viet Nam ($2.4B) appeared to be the countries with the highest levels of purchases in 2020, together comprising 23% of global imports.

In 2020, the average maize import price amounted to $246 per tonne, stabilizing at the previous year. Average prices varied somewhat amongst the major importing countries. In 2020, major importing countries recorded the following prices: in Germany ($265 per tonne) and the Netherlands ($224 per tonne), while Colombia ($198 per tonne) and Viet Nam ($198 per tonne) were amongst the lowest. The most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Germany, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth in 2020.

Source: IndexBox Platform


U.S. Rape Seed Prices to Spike 74% to Over $320 per tonne in 2022

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Rape Or Colza Seed – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

This year, the average rape seed price in the U.S. is forecast to pick up 74% y/y to a record $320 per tonne owing to reducing supply. Unfavourable weather in North Dakota adversely affected yields, decreasing the total rape seed output.

The average rape seed price in the U.S. is forecast to skyrocket from $184 per tonne in 2021 to a record $320 per tonne due to lower supply. Although the area under canola was expanded by 328K acres to 2.15M acres, poor weather in North Dakota led to yields reducing sharply last year. Dakota’s production accounts for 85% of total American rape output.

An expected decrease in rape imports to the U.S. will be another driver of the price growth. Much like in North Dakota, Canadian farmers saw poor yields and produced a record-low canola seed volume. This eventually will make Canada, which shapes 92% of U.S. rape seed imports, reduce exports to the country. Suppliers from Ukraine and the EU will likely expand their canola shipments to the U.S., filling the gap after reduced availability in North America.

U.S. Rape and Colza Seed Imports

In 2020, the amount of rape or colza seed imported into the U.S. expanded rapidly to 567K tonnes, with an increase of 12% compared with the year before. In value terms, supplies rose to $254M (IndexBox estimates).

Canada (524K tonnes) was the leading supplier of rape and colza seed to the U.S., with a 92% share of total imports. Moreover, rape and colza seed imports from Canada exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest supplier, Argentina (25K tonnes), more than tenfold.

In value terms, Canada ($226M) constituted the most significant rape and colza seed supplier to the U.S., comprising 89% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Argentina ($13M), with a 5.3% share of total imports.

Top Rape and Colza Seed Suppliers Worldwide

Global exports of rape or colza seeds amounted to 25M tonnes in 2020.In value terms, supplies totaled $11.1B.

Canada was the largest exporter of rape or colza seed globally, with the volume of supplies recording 12M tonnes, which was approx. 47% of total exports in 2020. Ukraine (2.4M tonnes) took a 9.5% share (based on tonnes) of total exports, which put it in second place, followed by the Netherlands (7.8%) and Australia (6.7%). France (1,060K tonnes), Belgium (946K tonnes), Hungary (714K tonnes), Lithuania (675K tonnes), Russia (647K tonnes), Romania (542K tonnes), Latvia (501K tonnes) and Poland (410K tonnes) took a little share of total exports.

In value terms, Canada ($4.7B) remains the most significant rape and colza seed supplier worldwide, comprising 42% of global supplies. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Ukraine ($1B), with a 9.1% share of total exports. It was followed by the Netherlands, with a 7.9% share.

Source: IndexBox Platform


Surge in Production Costs May Put Pressure on U.S. Food Industry

The food and beverage industry has many growth drivers but also some constraints. As a non-cyclical industry, there is a constant demand for food, which helps drive some growth in the industry.  Profit margins in food production and processing, however, are becoming thinner and are facing some pressure due to the highly competitive nature of this industry. Companies are facing higher commodity price volatility, disease outbreaks and weather events, which may well affect profitability and growth.

While the U.S. food and beverage industry has fared well in comparison to worldwide industry performance during the pandemic, and insolvencies have been lower than expected, due to a surge in U.S. food production costs, companies are seeing tighter margins even as higher prices are being passed on to consumers. The U.S. food and beverage output is still forecast to grow by 1% in 2022 – much less growth than seen in the past several years, however.

The recent wave of the Omicron variant felt around the globe may affect plans for a smooth path in 2022. Many businesses, specifically those in hospitality and food service subsectors, are still struggling to absorb the shocks from the beginning of the pandemic, according to a recent food industry trends report from Atradius. The absence of tourism and travel at the height of the pandemic and new variants of COVID-19, are cause for a slow rebound to the economic recovery in that subsector.

The U.S. is currently seeing the highest food price inflation since 2008 and food prices are expected to continue to rise in 2022, at least until the supply chain issues are resolved. As government subsidies disappear, pressures will mount for the U.S. consumer.


-Beverages: A more positive prognosis this year, with solid growth and sufficient liquidity. Beverages have seen much innovation and product development, adding to its positive performance.

-Meat and Dairy: Remains neutral as higher operating and production costs remain high and impact profit margins.

-Food Services: This sector will be the slowest to rebound from the effects of the pandemic and is much more susceptible to future Covid-19 variants.

Trends for 2022

Food will always be a necessity and consumers enjoy cooking at home, as well as dining at restaurants. Demand will always be high in the food industry, however, it is also highly competitive. Healthy and innovative products are key for food companies and restaurants to remain competitive in this landscape.

During the pandemic, food delivery skyrocketed, and this trend will persist in 2022. Options for plant-based and health-focused alternatives continue to increase as consumers demand more choices in this area. Raw material costs and lack of skilled employees will continue to be an issue for the sector in the coming year.

The credit risk assessment remains fair over the next 12 months (for nonpayment and insolvencies). Businesses that are able to effectively pass on price increases while maintaining enough labor and production capacity to meet ongoing demand will find themselves better situated in the coming months.

Sharon Benfer is a Senior Risk Underwriter at Atradius


U.S. Lemon Prices to Increase on Rising Fertilizer Costs, Global Production to Gain 4% y/y in 2022

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Lemons And Limes – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

Driven by growing logistics and fertilizer costs, lemon prices in the U.S. will rise despite expected increases in domestic and global production. In 2022, worldwide lemon and lime output is forecast to grow by 4% y/y to a record 22M tonnes due to increased acreages and favourable weather in Mexico, Turkey, South Africa and the U.S.

Lemon prices in the U.S. are projected to grow, despite expected increases in domestic and global production. Rising logistics and fertilizer costs are to push up fruit prices. In December 2021, the monthly average retail price for a pound of lemons in the U.S. was estimated at approximately $2.014, rising by 6% compared to December 2020. In 2022, it is forecast to pick up 3% to $2.074 per pound.

This year, global lemon and lime production is projected to increase by 4% y/y to 22M tonnes on the higher harvested areas and favourable weather in Mexico, Turkey and the U.S. Output in Mexico is to grow by 7% y/y to 3.2M tonnes, while Turkey production is set to soar by 27% y/y to a record 1.4M tonnes. Lemon production in South Africa is to rise by 4% y/y to 650K tonnes.

In 2022, U.S. output is expected to pick up 10% y/y to 885K tonnes with a larger crop in California. Imports into the U.S. are forecast to decrease by 2.3% y/y to 840K tonnes on rising domestic production.

Global Lemon and Lime Imports by Country

In 2020, approx. 3.7M tonnes of lemons and limes were imported worldwide, surging by 10% on the year before. In value terms, lemon and lime imports skyrocketed to $4.2B (IndexBox estimates).

In 2020, the U.S. (853K tonnes), distantly followed by the Netherlands (306K tonnes), Germany (260K tonnes), Russia (239K tonnes), France (174K tonnes) and the UK (168K tonnes) were the key importers of lemons and limes, together constituting 55% of total supplies. The following importers – Saudi Arabia (146K tonnes), Poland (141K tonnes), the United Arab Emirates (136K tonnes), Italy (119K tonnes), Canada (66K tonnes), Ukraine (65K tonnes) and Romania (62K tonnes) – together made up 20% of total purchases.

In value terms, the largest lemon and lime importing markets worldwide were the U.S. ($659M), Germany ($455M) and the Netherlands ($346M), together comprising 35% of global imports.

In 2020, the average lemon and lime import price amounted to $1,137 per tonne, surging by 4.8% against the previous year. Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was Canada ($1,925 per tonne), while the United Arab Emirates ($714 per tonne) was amongst the lowest. In 2020, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Poland, while the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox Platform


U.S. Wheat Prices to Fall in 2022, Global Supply to Remain Adequate

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Wheat – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The average annual wheat price in the U.S. is forecast to drop by 2% y-o-y to $250 per tonne in 2022, falling on reduced domestic consumption coupled with stable supply worldwide. The market balance will be buoyed by production gains in Argentina and the EU that will offset decreasing output in Brazil and Paraguay.

Based on the World Bank’s and USDA data, IndexBox predicts that the average annual price for Hard red winter wheat in the U.S. will drop by 2% y-o-y to $250 per tonne in 2022. Reducing domestic consumption is the key reason for that decrease, as feed use of wheat is expected to fall due to relatively high prices compared to other grains. The EU and Ukraine are to follow the same trend.

The global wheat supply will remain stable in 2022, as boosting production in Argentina and the EU should compensate for the expected decreases in Brazil and Paraguay and lower Russia’s beginning stocks. Argentina’s production is to surpass a record 20.5M tonnes this year.

In 2022, projected global trade will decline to 204M due to reduced supplies from the U.S. and Russia. American wheat remains uncompetitive in foreign markets, while the Russian government imposes quotas on export volumes to ensure sufficient domestic supplies and stabilize domestic food prices. Rising supplies from the EU could only partially offset that drop in the world’s exports.

Global Wheat Exports in 2020

Global wheat exports were estimated at 199M tonnes in 2020, increasing by 13% compared with the previous year’s figure. In value terms, supplies rose markedly to $45.3B.

The shipments of the five major wheat exporters, namely Russia, the U.S., Canada, France and Ukraine, represented more than half of global supplies. Australia (10M tonnes) ranks next in terms of total exports with a 5.2% share, followed by Argentina (5.1%) and Germany (4.7%). The following exporters – Kazakhstan (5.4M tonnes), Poland (4.7M tonnes), Romania (4.3M tonnes), Lithuania (4M tonnes) and Bulgaria (3.2M tonnes) – together made up 11% of the total volume.

In value terms, Russia ($7.9B), the U.S. ($6.3B) and Canada ($6.3B) constituted the countries with the highest levels of exports in 2020, with a combined 45% share of global supplies. These countries were followed by France, Ukraine, Australia, Germany, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Bulgaria, which together accounted for a further 44%.

Top Largest Wheat Importers in 2020

The purchases of the twelve significant wheat importers, namely Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, China, Italy, Algeria, the Philippines, Brazil, Bangladesh, Morocco and Japan, represented more than a third of the total volume. The Netherlands (4.3M tonnes) occupied a minor share of global imports.

In value terms, the largest wheat importing markets worldwide were Egypt ($2.7B), Indonesia ($2.6B) and Turkey ($2.3B), together accounting for 16% of international purchases. These countries were followed by China, Nigeria, Italy, Algeria, the Philippines, Japan, Brazil, Morocco, Bangladesh and the Netherlands, which together accounted for a further 34%.

Source: IndexBox Platform 

organic farming

U.S. States With the Most Organic Farms

As the force that feeds and nourishes the population, agriculture is one of the most vital industries in the U.S. economy. To accommodate the country’s growth over the years, agricultural practices have evolved to become more efficient, capable of reliably meeting the population’s daily needs. But these efficient practices also come with environmental costs, and many farmers and consumers are increasingly seeking out more sustainable alternatives.

Organic farming is an approach to agriculture that attempts to mimic nature and natural processes when raising crops and livestock. Rather than using techniques of larger-scale industrial agriculture, like genetic modifications, monoculture farming, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, organic farmers seek to conserve biodiversity and natural resources on their farmland.

Organic products have seen a boom in demand in recent years, and there are a number of reasons why consumers might be seeking out organic products. Organic techniques appeal to environmentalist consumers who value a more sustainable approach to agriculture that promotes biodiversity, limits pollution, and increases carbon capture. For meat and dairy consumers, livestock production on organic farms is considered to be a more ethical and humane way to raise animals because they are given more access to the outdoors, better feed, and fewer hormones and antibiotics. Health-conscious consumers can point to evidence that organic products have health benefits like greater nutrient density and lower levels of toxic metals and pesticide residue than conventional agricultural products.

Whatever the reasons, organic farming has increased substantially over the last decade or so. In 2008, the U.S. had 10,903 organic farms covering around 4 million acres of farmland. In 2019, there were nearly 16,500 organic farms on 5.5 million acres. And these farms have grown alongside consumer demand: the sales of organic products have more than tripled over the same span, rising from $3.1 billion to $9.9 billion.

Within the nearly $10 billion organic food market, milk, chicken, and eggs are the top-selling products. Organic milk leads all products with sales of more than $1.5 billion per year, while chicken sees $1.1 billion in sales annually and eggs generate $887 million. Apples are the top-selling form of organic produce, with $475 million in annual sales.

While the organic farming industry has seen tremendous growth, not all farmers are adopting organic practices. Many large-scale agricultural operations in the Midwest and South have relatively low numbers of organic farms and acreage devoted to such operations. But one location where organic agriculture has taken hold deeply is California. California is home to more than 3,000 organic farms—more than twice the next-highest state—and the total acreage of organic farms in the state totals nearly 1 million acres.

California is the nation’s top state for agricultural sales overall, so it is unsurprising that the state is also the leader in organic production. In relative terms, several other states devote a greater share of their farmland to organic farming than California, where organic farms represent only about 4% of the state’s agricultural acreage. Instead, the list of top states for organic farms on a relative basis is led by northeastern states including Maine, New York, and Vermont—the runaway leader, where organic acreage accounts for nearly 17% of its total.

The data used in this analysis is from the USDA. To identify the states with the most organic farms, researchers at calculated the total certified organic acres operated as a percentage of total farmland in each state. In the event of a tie, the state with the greater number of organic farms as a percentage of total farms was ranked higher. Only states with available data from the USDA were included in the analysis.

Here are the states with the most organic farms.

State Rank Organic acreage as a percentage of total Organic farms as a percentage of total Total organic acreage Total organic farms Total value of organic products sold
Vermont    1   16.92% 9.63% 203,002 655 $159,742,000
New York    2   4.68% 3.96% 323,081 1,321 $298,420,000
Maine    3   4.25% 6.00% 55,261 456 $63,820,000
California    4   3.97% 4.31% 965,257 3,012 $3,596,923,000
New Hampshire    5   2.72% 1.95% 11,708 80 $11,274,000
Wisconsin    6   1.75% 2.10% 250,940 1,364 $268,921,000
Massachusetts    7   1.63% 1.85% 8,170 133 $32,895,000
Nevada    8   1.60% 1.19% 97,868 40 $66,803,000
Idaho    9   1.57% 0.98% 180,732 240 $205,968,000
Pennsylvania    10   1.47% 1.79% 107,550 944 $741,764,000
Michigan    11   1.25% 1.15% 122,253 541 $230,955,000
Oregon    12   1.24% 1.22% 196,045 455 $454,406,000
Utah    13   0.88% 0.27% 94,591 48 $26,903,000
Maryland    14   0.86% 0.97% 17,196 120 $50,080,000
Ohio    15   0.82% 1.01% 111,920 785 $116,999,000
United States    –   0.61% 0.81% 5,495,274 16,476 $9,925,911,000

For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on’s website: