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Rabobank Releases Annual North American Food & Agribusiness Outlook
Date:12/21/2007

ed desire for better quality and more convenient products that command higher prices. For example, according to Rabobank's Outlook, one of the results of this trend is the increase in sales of specialty items such as fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Between 1997 and 2006, fresh-cut produce sales increased by nearly 170 percent and reached an estimated $13.4 billion in sales.

"Food retailers are expected to see continued growth of many gourmet and specialty items, even if inflation continues," said FAR Vice President Stephen Rannekleiv. "Consumers can be expected to continue to trade down for items of lower importance and continue to trade up for products that they value. Inflation or even a slowing of the economy is more likely to affect mid-tier products than specialty items."

Animal Protein Exports

The United States meat (beef, pork and poultry) industry is becoming increasing reliant on international consumers. For example, in light of record pork supplies, the performance of U.S. pork exports will remain under the spotlight in 2008. Specifically, China has been touted as the next big opportunity for U.S. pork exports and is likely to become especially important given the recent decline in exports to Mexico, traditionally one of the most important markets for U.S. pork.

While the Chinese government has implemented myriad measures to stimulate domestic production, prices are expected to remain historically high for the next 12 months, because the Chinese pork inventory is barely keeping up with current demand, while demand continues to increase. and demand too strong. Additionally, while a devalued dollar will assist U.S. pork exporters in China and other export markets, competition is also expected to accelerate. U.S. poultry leg quarters are a very price competitive protein source in the Chinese market, and two other pork producing countries, Argentina and Brazil, have recently signed agreements allowing them to export to China.

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SOURCE Rabobank America
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