With 2022 over, and now firmly in the middle of January, we can finally look back and see the contribution in agriculture New Jersey made to the world.
It may come as a surprise that our main trading partner was Canada, as it has been for some time now. However surprising it may be, it may at least occur to some to guess, seeing as how Canada is just a short truck drive away. But would you have guessed we send products out to Yemen? Congo? Chile, or Thailand? Indeed, we do!
So, what is it that we export to these far off countries?
Our top five agricultural exports:
- Essential Oils
- Fresh Fruit
- Fruit and Vegetable Juices
- Vegetable Oils (ex. soybean)
- Non-Alcoholic Beverages (ex. juices)
We exported a total of $534,709,245 last year, the majority of which went to Ireland. New Jersey has a robust and vibrant industry of essential oil manufacturing that in turn feeds the large fragrance industry in the state. Berje, in Carteret, is one company that for over 70 years has been manufacturing essential oils to use in cosmetics, soaps, and food flavorings. They, and other companies like them partner with, or own, farms and producers that grow the various plants and herbs that are then processed here in New Jersey to extract their oils.
After Ireland comes Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, and Thailand. That’s quite an eclectic group.
This one should come as no surprise. New Jersey produces a large amount of blueberries, apples, peaches, and cranberries, some of which are sold throughout the state at farmers markets and supermarkets, but much of which is sent out of the state. Our robust manufacturing base ensures that many of the products are processed right here.
We made a total of $247,534,963 from fresh fruit exports, almost all of which went to Canada ($246,197,343). Rounding out the top five destinations were Bermuda, Chile, United Kingdom, and Trinidad and Tobago, respectively.
One thing to note before moving on is that we have the distinction of having started the cultivation of blueberries in the 1890’s. Before then, blueberries were only found in the wild, a treat enjoyed by the local Native Americans. We continue to be within the top ten national producers every year.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices:
Once again, Canada is at the top, having received 95% of our fruit and vegetable juice exports. Companies like Global Concentrate in Glen Rock, partner with various growers to produce purees, not-from-concentrate juices, and fruit and vegetable concentrates. Other companies like the well-known Sunny Delight in Dayton and Johanna Foods in Flemington also contribute to the juice production within the state.
There is one distinction to note, however. We manufacture these juices, but we don’t grow the fruits and vegetables of which they are made. On a local level, there are businesses that take state sourced raw ingredients and make them into juice, but it’s sold in stores and is of a relatively trivial amount. As with so many other commodities, New Jersey is a manufacturing state. We bring in the parts and assemble the products before taking advantage of our strategically valuable location and sending them out.
Vegetable Oils (ex. Soybean)
Similar to our essential oil production, the foods that lead to the oils are not necessarily grown in New Jersey, they are received and processed here. And much like the rest of the commodities on this list, the biggest share was sent off to Canada. We exported $191,586,734 of vegetable oil in 2022, and while our neighbors to the north took in most, they were in close competition, within around $13 million of each other. They both accounted for around $126 million of total exports. The last three countries – United Kingdom, Yemen, and Congo – combine for around $25 million.
Businesses like Welch, Holme, and Clark (WHC) in Newark are key to our presence as vegetable oil exporters. In business since 1838, they provide oils to the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care industries, among many others. Why Newark?
“This strategic location facilitates rapid and efficient service to our US and world-wide customers.”
Location: New Jersey’s most valuable business advantage.
Non-Alcoholic Beverages (ex. Juices)
Exporting non-alcoholic beverages (NAB) earned New Jersey $136,498,075 in 2022, the majority of which, again, went to Canada. With its first appearance on this list, the Netherlands comes in second, with United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico rounding out the remaining three.
C&C Cola in Cranford and Pepsi in Piscataway and Pennsauken take advantage of New Jersey’s network of highways and massive port Newark/Elizabeth to produce and distribute soft drinks up north and across the Atlantic.
To summarize, New Jersey exports many agricultural products, but chief among them are essential oils, fresh fruits, fruit and vegetable juices, vegetable oils, and non-alcoholic beverages. Our ability to put out large amounts of agricultural products is not nearly as great as other, larger states, however, we have capitalized on our strong manufacturing base, and we have created a place in the food industry that fits us. It is a place we should strive to perfect.