That dollar amount specific to consumer-targeted exports represents 41.9% of the overall value of all US exported goods ($1.754 trillion).
The 5 most valuable consumer end-use goods shipped by the United States onto global markets during 2021 were exported refined petroleum oils, petroleum gases, cars, automobile parts or accessories, and telephone sets including smartphones. Combined, those 5 leading exports amount to 15.7% of America’s total revenues collected from selling its exports on international markets.
The total dollar amount for America’s top 100 exported consumer products increased by 26.3% from 2020 to 2021 and rose by 13.5% since 2017.
America’s overall shipments of all its exported products–encompassing raw materials, intermediate products as well as those classified as consumer goods–grew at a slightly slower pace. Total US exports increased in value by 23.1% compared to 2020 and by 13.4% over the 5-year period starting in 2017.
Among the top 100 consumer products exported by the United States, 95 generated more revenues from 2020 to 2021. The fastest cashflow increases belong to US exports of petroleum gas (up 104%), corn (up 99.6%), items made from hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel (up 64.1%), coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 59.9%), then trailers (up 54.7%).
Just 5 US consumer exports declined year over year. The decliners were US export sales of coins including legal tender (down -17%), medication mixed not in dosage (down -12.2%), alcoholic beverages including spirits and liqueurs (down -3.3%), malt extract and food preparations (down -0.8%), and pork meat (down -0.5%).
Exported Consumer Products Defined
So, what are consumer products? They are final goods or end products that a business mainly creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while exported crude oil is an intermediate good subject to further processing before being sold to end users.
Although there may be a few wealthy individual buyers, products like turbojets are excluded from the consumer products targeted by this study. That is because turbojets are usually purchased by corporations. In contrast, it is common for consumers to buy motorcycles.
Admittedly there are some grey areas. For example, business and government entities buy exported gold in addition to consumers. On the other hand, generally fewer consumers buy platinum exports.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types for the exports reviewed in the article.
Convenience Products are easy to access, non-durable, have relatively lower prices and therefore consumers frequently purchase them. Examples of convenience products are food, alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, and soap.
Shopping Products are not as easily available as convenience products, involve more time to make a buying decision, are durable and are not bought as often as most convenience products. A great example of a shopping product is a mobile phone where buying the wrong model is a much more expensive mistake than buying a disappointing loaf of bread.
Specialty Products describe another consumer product type. This grey area includes infrequently purchased, expensive, durable and sometimes rare items. Consumers may consider the product’s brand image when making their purchase decisions. Some examples of speciality products are gold, silver, diamonds, jewelry, and branded refrigerators and dishwashers.
US Top 100 Most Valuable Consumer Exports
The searchable international sales database below showcases America’s 100 highest value exported consumer products in descending order. Items were selected at the four-digit Harmonized System tariff classification code level.
The table’s fifth column identifies each entry’s consumer product type.
The most popular product type is shopping products (SP) led by cars, automobile parts or accessories, phone devices including smartphones, computers, and trucks. Shopping products represent about four-fifths (39) of America’s top 100 exported consumer goods.
Close behind second place via 38 entries are convenience products (CP) led by refined petroleum oils, petroleum gas, medications, then America’s flagship food exports soya beans and corn.
Then there is the speciality products (SY) category with 23 entries. Examples of major speciality products are American exports of gold, diamonds, liquid pumps, jewelry, and hand-drawn paintings and drawings.
|1||Processed petroleum oils||$84,936,986,000||+46.9%||CP|
|5||Phone devices including smartphones||$31,777,051,000||+13.2%||SP|
|9||Computers, optical readers||$26,820,793,000||+8.2%||SP|
|12||Computer parts, accessories||$16,091,483,000||+24.8%||SP|
|15||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$10,511,973,000||+15.4%||SP|
|17||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$9,709,488,000||+59.9%||CP|
|20||Miscellaneous plastic items||$7,803,762,000||+19.4%||CP|
|21||Unrecorded sound media||$7,359,395,000||+17.6%||SP|
|23||Miscellaneous food preparations||$7,105,439,000||+14%||CP|
|24||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$6,353,880,000||+7.4%||SY|
|25||Electrical converters/power units||$6,164,574,000||+9.5%||SP|
|27||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$5,933,867,000||+12.2%||CP|
|30||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$5,096,445,000||+24.2%||SP|
|32||Packaged insecticides, herbicides||$4,770,469,000||+7.5%||SP|
|33||Fresh or chilled beef||$4,702,842,000||+32.2%||CP|
|34||Electric motors, not generating sets||$4,633,055,000||+8.2%||SY|
|36||Rubber tires (new)||$4,474,507,000||+12.5%||SP|
|38||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$4,127,159,000||+13.9%||SP|
|41||Other organic cleaning preparations||$3,717,092,000||+5.4%||CP|
|42||Electric storage batteries||$3,535,391,000||+2.8%||SY|
|43||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$3,261,987,000||+10.6%||SY|
|44||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$3,212,630,000||+6.3%||SP|
|46||Household base metal mountings||$2,803,374,000||+14%||SY|
|49||Vulcanized rubber items||$2,725,654,000||+9%||SP|
|51||Video console games, table games||$2,573,884,000||+26.7%||SP|
|56||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$2,257,086,000||+18.8%||SP|
|57||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$2,161,565,000||+4.6%||CP|
|58||Printed books, brochures||$2,101,562,000||+11.3%||SP|
|59||Special hand/machine tools||$2,056,952,000||+28.2%||SY|
|60||Other pharmaceutical goods||$1,961,088,000||+12.8%||SP|
|61||Sauces, condiments, seasoning||$1,930,733,000||+13.8%||CP|
|63||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$1,853,485,000||-3.3%||CP|
|64||Red meat offal||$1,848,696,000||+27%||CP|
|66||Yachts, canoes, row boats||$1,800,214,000||+26.4%||SP|
|67||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$1,778,602,000||+13.9%||CP|
|68||Prepared glues, adhesives||$1,728,128,000||+23.1%||SP|
|69||Whole fish (frozen)||$1,726,428,000||+16.6%||CP|
|70||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$1,718,605,000||+64.1%||SP|
|71||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,703,598,000||+18.6%||SY|
|72||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$1,675,332,000||+20.1%||CP|
|74||Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung)||$1,613,289,000||+47.1%||SY|
|75||Electric generating sets, converters||$1,587,435,000||+14.8%||SY|
|80||Medication mixes not in dosage||$1,434,782,000||-12.2%||CP|
|81||Perfumes, toilet waters||$1,430,062,000||+17.4%||CP|
|82||Other printed pictures, photos||$1,422,350,000||+27.7%||SY|
|83||Waters with added sugar||$1,408,483,000||+10.1%||CP|
|84||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,397,973,000||+17%||CP|
|86||Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust||$1,312,685,000||+8.7%||CP|
|87||Original sculptures, statues||$1,298,615,000||+11.6%||SY|
|88||Dishwash, clean/dry/fill machines||$1,287,668,000||+7.1%||SY|
|89||Fish fillets, pieces||$1,275,701,000||+5.8%||CP|
|90||Prepared vegetables (frozen)||$1,274,276,000||+16.5%||CP|
|91||Other meats (prepared/preserved)||$1,239,256,000||+25.1%||CP|
|92||Miscellaneous textile items||$1,190,817,000||+3.1%||SP|
|93||Shaving preparations, deodorants||$1,190,176,000||+2.7%||SP|
|94||Miscellaneous aluminum items||$1,189,798,000||+6.2%||SP|
|95||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$1,159,895,000||+53.3%||CP|
|96||Sowing seeds, fruits, spores||$1,140,014,000||+14.3%||CP|
|97||Malt extract, food preparations||$1,114,414,000||-0.8%||CP|
|98||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,102,768,000||+12.2%||SP|
|99||Coins including legal tender||$1,079,656,000||-17%||SY|
|100||Apples, pears (fresh)||$1,071,545,000||+7.9%||CP|
Durable consumer products (D) are goods like cars, refrigerators and furniture that last a relatively long time. Consumers can put durable products to use again and again.
Non-durable consumer products (ND) are goods that are not re-used once consumed. Alcoholic beverages and bananas are examples of non-durable goods.
Based on the product types identified in the above table, 62 of America’s highest-value consumer exported products are durable while 38 are classified as non-durable.
You can also peruse the greatest increases or decreases in product values from 2020 to 2021. To do so, click on the heading of the fourth column.
Fastest-Growing US Consumer Exports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products shipped by the United States that benefited from the highest percentage increases in global sales from 2020 to 2021.
- Petroleum gas: Up 104% ($67.6 billion)
- Corn: Up 99.6% ($19.1 billion)
- Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items: Up 64.1% ($1.7 billion)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: Up 59.9% ($9.7 billion)
- Trailers: Up 54.7% ($4.2 billion)
- Crustaceans (including lobsters): Up 53.3% ($1.2 billion)
- Frozen beef: Up 52.8% ($4.6 billion)
- Silver (unwrought): Up 47.8% ($2.8 billion)
- Unstrung precious/semi-precious stones: Up 47.1% ($1.6 billion)
- Processed petroleum oils: Up 46.9% ($84.9 billion)
Six of the above items are non-durable goods that consumers use or consumer one time.
In contrast, 2 of these exports are shopping products (items made from hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel) that require a comparatively longer time to make a buying decision and that consumers re-use. Another 2 leading gainers (unwrought silver and unstrung precious or semi-precious stones) are specialty products.
Severest-Declining US Consumer Exports
Among the top 100 US exports, America’s spending on the following 5 items resulted in the only decliners from 2020 to 2021.
- Coins including legal tender: Down -17% ($1.08 billion)
- Medication mixes not in dosage: Down -12.2% ($1.4 billion)
- Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs): Down -3.3% ($1.9 billion)
- Malt extract, food preparations: Down -0.8% ($1.11 billion)
- Swine meat: Down -0.5% ($6 billion)
Coins including legal tendered represents the only top 10 decliner that is a speciality product. The remaining US export goods making the list of year-over-year losers are 4 consumer products that are used one time only.
Key Customers for US Exports by Country
This analysis reveals competitive buyers that provide major demand for America’s top 5 consumer export products.
The biggest US exported consumer product by value are refined petroleum oils. America’s 4 other leading consumer exports are petroleum gases, cars, automotive parts or accessories, and phone devices including smartphones.
Here are the main international customers for
America’s exported refined petroleum oils: Mexico (32.2% of total), Canada (12.5%), Brazil (9.5%), Chile (4.5%), Panama (4%), Colombia (3.5%), Peru (3.4%), Guatemala (2.9%), Netherlands (2.4%), and Singapore (1.6%).
America’s exported petroleum gases: Mexico (20.3% of total), Japan (13.7%), mainland China (9.1%), South Korea (8.9%), Brazil (4.7%), Canada (3.5%), Turkey (3.1%), Indonesia (3%), Netherlands (2.8%), and Spain (also 2.8%).
America’s exported cars: Canada (25.3% of total), Germany (14.1%), mainland China (12.1%), South Korea (5.6%), Belgium (5%), Mexico (also 5%), United Arab Emirates (3.4%), Saudi Arabia (2.7%), Australia (2.4%), and Nigeria (1.7%).
America’s exported automotive parts or accessories: Mexico (40.1% of total), Canada (29.8%), mainland China (5%), Germany (2.2%), Brazil (1.9%), Australia (1.7%), Thailand (1.5%), Japan (1.3%), South Africa (also 1.3%), and Spain (1.2%).
America’s exported telephone sets including smartphones: Hong Kong (15.2% of total), Canada (11.7%), Mexico (9.4%), United Arab Emirates (7.3%), Netherlands (6.6%), Paraguay (3.1%), United Kingdom (2.9%), mainland China (2.8%), Japan (2.4%), and Australia (2.3%).
Based on the above lists, Mexico appears to be America’s number one customer given that it is the leading international purchaser for 3 of the 5 most valuable consumer products exported from the US.
See also United States Top 10 Imports, United States Top 10 Exports, Top United States Trade Balances and America’s Top 20 Export States and United States Top 10 Major Export Companies
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article were based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition. Accessed on April 15, 2022
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: United States Economy. Accessed on April 15, 2022
Imported Consumer Products, United States Top 100 Imported Consumer Products. Accessed on April 15, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 15, 2022
Investopedia, Consumer Goods, Consumer Staples Definition, Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG). Accessed on April 15, 2022
Trading Economics, United States Consumer Spending. Accessed on April 15, 2022
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets. Accessed on April 15, 2022