Americans love their pickles.  According to Pickle Packers International and its I Love Pickles website, we eat 2.5 billion pounds of pickles every year, or 20 billion pickles total.  I Love Pickles has many other fun facts, but GSP didn’t make the cut.

Perhaps it should have, since more than $30 million worth of jarred pickles were imported duty free under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program in 2010.

GSP imports accounted for more than 70 percent of total U.S. pickle imports in 2010 – a number that has been rising steadily over the last five years.

GSP savings are significant, since pickles normally face tariffs of 9.6 percent.  GSP reduced the wholesale cost of pickles by $3 million in 2010 and by more than $11 million in the last five years.  Where do GSP pickles come from?  Primarily India, which accounted for $28 million of GSP pickle imports in 2010, followed by Turkey at $2 million.

Some of the best-known brands, such as Vlasic in Michigan and B&G Foods in Maryland, import pickles to supplement domestic production.  Transnational Foods, based in Miami, Florida, imports jars of pickles for sale under its own Pampa brand as well as for private-label clients that sell pickles under generic supermarket brands.

So the next time you find yourself in the pickle aisle, take a look to see if those prices are a bit higher than you remember.