In 2021, the United States’ 100 most valuable imported consumer products generated a total US$1.473 trillion in spending on international markets.
That dollar amount represents 50.1% of the overall value of all US imported goods ($2.937 trillion). That percentage reflects a slight decrease from 50.3% worth of consumer products purchased in 2020.
The 5 most valuable consumer products imported into the United States during 2021 were cars, computers, mobile phones, medication mixes in doses and automobile parts or accessories.
The total dollar amount for America’s top 100 imported consumer products increased by 17.8% from 2020 to 2021, less than the overall 22% expansion for all US imported goods for the year.
America’s purchases of imported products–both overall and consumer–far outpaced the global average decline of -8.2% from 2019 to 2020 for all importing countries.
Among the top 100 consumer products imported by the US, 95 increased in total spending from 2020 to 2021.
The 5 declining US consumer imports were miscellaneous items made from textiles (down -63.5%), miscellaneous items clad with precious metals (down -62.8%), gold (down -59.9%), felt clothing plus other non-woven garments (down -52.2%) and tomatoes (down -0.2%). Changes in American consumer demand for essential imports offer future opportunities for international suppliers who correctly anticipate which upward or downward trends will continue.
Consumer Products Defined
Economics educator BoyceWire defines a consumer product as a final good or end product that a business creates for consumers to buy. For example, consumers often purchase refined petroleum oil at the gas station while imported 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 a consumer to buy a motorcycle.
Types of Consumer Products
This article focuses on 3 distinct consumer product types.
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, 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 Consumer Imports Smart List
The searchable marketing intelligence table below showcases America’s 100 highest-value imported 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 (SD) led by cars, computers, mobile phones then automobile parts or accessories. Shopping products represent almost half (49) of America’s top 100 imported consumer goods.
In second place via 26 entries are convenience products (CP) led by medication mixes in dosage, processed petroleum oils, miscellaneous items made from plastics like plastic food utensils, petroleum gas and sports equipment.
Close behind are speciality products (SY) with 25 leading entries. Examples of major speciality products are American imports of unmounted diamonds, electric storage batteries, refrigerators or freezers, jewelry and gold.
|2||Computers, optical readers||$118,181,595,000||+12.8%||SP|
|3||Phone devices including smartphones||$111,542,529,000||+17.6%||SP|
|6||Processed petroleum oils||$64,097,849,000||+75.9%||CP|
|9||Computer parts, accessories||$30,432,591,000||+28%||SP|
|10||Seats (not barber/dentist chairs)||$29,620,362,000||+27.7%||SP|
|14||Electrical converters/power units||$18,972,203,000||+17.8%||SP|
|15||Rubber tires (new)||$17,185,930,000||+22.2%||SP|
|16||Miscellaneous plastic items||$17,115,005,000||+20.9%||CP|
|17||Unrecorded sound media||$17,102,421,000||+13.3%||SP|
|18||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$15,531,768,000||+33.6%||SP|
|20||Electric storage batteries||$15,171,875,000||+60.2%||SY|
|28||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$12,617,816,000||+25%||SP|
|29||Video console games, table games||$12,461,378,000||+51.6%||SP|
|31||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$12,225,681,000||+21.8%||SY|
|34||Cases, handbags, wallets||$11,529,439,000||+37.5%||SP|
|35||Electric motors, not generating sets||$11,365,881,000||+20.7%||SY|
|36||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$10,940,756,000||+42.1%||CP|
|38||Vulcanized rubber apparel||$10,852,602,000||+134.1%||SP|
|39||Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)||$10,696,431,000||+20.3%||CP|
|40||Miscellaneous items of precious metals||$9,786,029,000||-62.8%||SP|
|41||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$9,736,186,000||+19.8%||CP|
|43||Women's clothing (not knit/crochet)||$9,029,365,000||+18%||SP|
|44||Household base metal mountings||$8,752,440,000||+24.5%||SY|
|45||Plastic wares (table, kitchen, toiletry)||$8,548,095,000||+28.5%||CP|
|46||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$7,817,109,000||+21.3%||CP|
|48||Men's suits (unknit/non-crochet)||$7,512,890,000||+30.8%||SP|
|49||Miscellaneous textile items||$7,510,681,000||-63.5%||SP|
|50||Fish fillets, pieces||$7,472,339,000||+22.5%||CP|
|51||Miscellaneous food preparations||$7,413,250,000||+12.7%||CP|
|52||T-shirts, vests (knit or crochet)||$7,378,077,000||+44.9%||SP|
|54||Women's clothing (knit or crochet)||$6,928,804,000||+39.5%||SP|
|58||Screws, bolts, washers, hooks, pins||$6,587,396,000||+30.2%||SP|
|60||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$6,409,544,000||+28.7%||SP|
|61||Footwear (rubber or plastic)||$6,351,326,000||+36.4%||SP|
|62||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$6,165,868,000||+67.9%||SY|
|64||Iron/steel stoves, barbecues||$5,738,917,000||+37.2%||SY|
|66||Dishwash, clean/dry/fill machines||$5,473,901,000||+20.3%||SY|
|67||Plastic tile or roll coverings||$5,414,826,000||+26.4%||SP|
|68||Carnival items, magic tricks||$5,219,069,000||+31.2%||SY|
|70||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$5,013,362,000||+19.5%||CP|
|71||Fresh or chilled beef||$4,974,106,000||+32.7%||CP|
|73||Iron/steel tables, household items||$4,837,689,000||+35%||SP|
|74||Vulcanized rubber items||$4,764,257,000||+24.6%||SP|
|75||Hot-rolled iron/non-alloy steel items||$4,493,727,000||+278.3%||SP|
|76||Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools||$4,359,467,000||+20.2%||SY|
|77||Other fresh/chilled vegetables||$4,279,424,000||+4.6%||CP|
|78||Women's underwear (knit/crochet)||$4,155,895,000||+46.2%||SP|
|79||Coins including legal tender||$4,132,733,000||+89.2%||SY|
|80||Waters with added sugar||$4,046,942,000||+8.7%||CP|
|82||Wrist/pocket watches (regular case)||$3,982,160,000||+46.3%||SP|
|84||Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)||$3,912,685,000||+37.1%||CP|
|85||Other pharmaceutical goods||$3,882,222,000||+9.3%||SP|
|86||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$3,837,799,000||+18.5%||CP|
|91||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$3,333,690,000||+22.2%||SP|
|92||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$3,222,489,000||+11.7%||CP|
|93||Special hand/machine tools||$3,217,380,000||+15.2%||SY|
|94||Men's suits,trousers (knit or crochet)||$3,167,794,000||+63.1%||SP|
|95||Bras, corsets (unknit/non-crochet)||$3,144,712,000||+48.1%||SP|
|96||Perfumes, toilet waters||$3,091,965,000||+44.5%||CP|
|99||Felt, other non-woven garments||$2,840,804,000||-52.2%||SP|
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, 74 of America’s highest-value consumer imported products are durable while 26 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 Consumer Imports
Listed below are the top 10 consumer products imported into the United States that experienced the highest percentage increases in spending from 2020 to 2021.
- Items made from hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel: Up 278.3% ($4.5 billion)
- Vulcanized rubber clothing and accessories: Up 134.1% ($10.9 billion)
- Nitrogenous fertilizers: Up 96.3% ($3.9 billion)
- Petroleum gas: Up 90.8% ($14.3 billion)
- Coins including legal tender: Up 89.2% ($4.1 billion)
- Jewelry: Up 82.9% ($14.1 billion)
- Processed petroleum oils: Up 75.9% ($64.1 billion)
- Hand-drawn paintings, drawings: Up 67.9% ($6.2 billion)
- Knitted or crocheted men’s suits, trousers: Up 63.1% ($3.2 billion)
- Diamonds (unmounted/unset): Up 62.1% ($20.2 billion)
Among these top 10 items are 8 durable goods that consumers can re-use over time. Five top gainers are periodically purchased speciality items including jewelry, hand-drawn paintings or drawings, and diamonds. Three are shopping products that require a comparatively longer time to make a buying decision specifically items made from hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel, vulcanized rubber apparel and knitted or crocheted men’s suits or trousers.
The two non-durable top imports are the energy consumer products petroleum gas and processed petroleum oils.
Flatlining and Declining US Consumer Imports
America’s spending on the following 5 items decreased at the greatest pace from 2020 to 2021.
- Miscellaneous textile items: Down -63.5% ($7.5 billion)
- Miscellaneous items clad in precious metals: Down -62.8% ($9.8 billion)
- Gold: Down -59.9% ($13.9 billion)
- Felt clothing, other non-woven garments: Down -52.2% ($2.8 billion)
- Tomatoes: Down -0.2% ($2.9 billion)
Three of these items are shopping products while gold is a speciality item and tomatoes is a product consumed at once.
The 5 items below flatlined with the most modest gains among America’s most valuable 100 imported goods.
- Bananas, plantains: Up 0.1% ($2.8 billion)
- Cars: Up 1.6% ($148.1 billion)
- Miscellaneous fresh or chilled vegetables: Up 4.6% ($4.3 billion)
- Medications: Up 4.9% ($84.5 billion)
- Waters with added sugar: Up 8.7% ($4 billion)
Cars represent the sole flatliner that is a non-durable shopper product that is consumed over time. In contrast, the remaining 4 flatlining imports are consumer products.
Key Suppliers by Country
This analysis reveals competitive suppliers that target America’s demand for its top 5 consumer import products.
The biggest US imported consumer product by value is cars. America’s 4 other leading consumer imports are computers, phones, medications, and automotive parts or accessories.
Below, you will find major supplying countries for US imported:
Cars: Japan (22.5% of total), Mexico (20%), Canada (17.2%), South Korea (12%), Germany (10.3%), United Kingdom (4.7%), Slovakia (2.5%), Italy (2.1%), Sweden (2%), and mainland China (1.4%).
Computers: mainland China (52.9% of total), Mexico (24%), Taiwan (7.6%), Thailand (6.8%), Vietnam (2.6%), Malaysia (1%), Philippines (0.9%), Germany (0.5%), Canada (0.4%), and Japan (also 0.4%).
Phones: mainland China (55.2% of total), Vietnam (15.7%), Mexico (7.8%), Taiwan (4.5%), Thailand (3.3%), Malaysia (2.7%), South Korea (2.4%), Estonia (1.1%), India (0.9%), and Canada (0.8%).
Medication mixes in dosage: Switzerland (18.7% of total), Ireland (16.7%), India (10.4%), Germany (10.3%), Denmark (7.4%), Canada (5.2%), Italy (4.8%), United Kingdom (4%), Japan (3.1%), and Singapore (2.9%).
Automotive parts or accessories: Mexico (35.4% of total), mainland China (13.8%), Canada (12.7%), Japan (9.6%), Germany (7.1%), South Korea (also 7.1%), Taiwan (2.8%), India (2.2%), Thailand (1.5%), and Italy (1.1%).
More great research: US Tariffs on Key Consumer Products Imported from China, Main US Imports by Key Supplier Countries, UK’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, China’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, Canada’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products, Mexico’s Top 100 Imported Consumer Products by Value
Independent insights and analysis presented in this article are based on researched facts and statistics sourced from the following educational portals.
BoyceWire, Consumer Goods Definition.
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook: United States Economy.
International Trade Centre, Trade Map.
Trading Economics, United States Consumer Spending.
Wikipedia, List of largest consumer markets.
World’s Top Exports, United States Top 10 Imports.