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How Do We Have Carrots Year-Round?

Thanks to our local and international trading processes, carrots are available year-round for Americans to enjoy. Native in Europe and Southwestern Asia, carrots are a root vegetable that can be grown and shipped all year long. While China is the largest carrot producer in the world with 21 million tons of carrots harvested each year, California produces a significant number of U.S. carrots as well, with 1,411,200 tons produced in 2021. Carrots are always available in our grocery stores thanks to a never-ending production flow and import/export cycle

What Are Carrots?

Carrots (Daucus Carota) are part of the Apiaceae family, along with celery and parsley. In 2020, 78% of consumers bought carrots for their household, bringing retail value up by 7.8% since 2019. This consistent value makes carrots a sought-after market for food distributors worldwide. The first country to ever grow carrots was Afghanistan in the 10th century.

Carrot Types

There are a few variations of carrots, and harvesting time results in these variations.

  • Nantes
    • Harvest time | 62 days
    • Season | late summer-fall
    • originated in France
  • Imperator
    • Harvest time | 75 days
    • Season | early fall
    • originated in Afghanistan
  • Chantenay
    • Harvest time | 65-75 days
    • Season | midsummer-fall
    • originated in France
  • Danvers
    • Harvest time | 65-85 days
    • Season | spring-summer
    • originated in Massachusetts
  • Miniature
    • Harvest time | 50-60 days
    • Season | summer
    • originated in California
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Worldwide Carrot Production

The absolute top producers of carrots worldwide are Uzbekistan and the U.S., while China is leading statistics. Carrots come from Canada and Mexico when the country is not in the production season. Carrots grown in Mexico are planted in August, and Canadian carrots are planted in March.

California, the U.S.’ top producer of carrots, has four different regions where the roots are best grown; San Joaquin Valley, Southern Desert, High Desert, and Central coast. California produces 90% of the U.S. carrots, while Michigan and Texas follow up by yielding thousands of acres of carrots per year.

Worldwide Production Value 2020( Metric Ton )

  • China | produces 20.5M tons per year
  • Uzbekistan | produces 2.2M tons per year
  • The United States | produces 1.3M tons per year
  • Russia | produces 1.8M tons per year
  • Ukraine | produces 876K tons per year
  • 18.07 Million MT
  • 2.88M
  • 1.58M
  • 1.37M
  • 862.46K (Thousand)

Weather & Climate

Carrots flourish in climates similar to potatoes & onions,which all fall under the cool-weather vegetable category. Carrots grow best and develop the highest sugars when temperatures are between 40 degrees and 80 degrees F. As the U.S. goes through the off-season, carrots can not be grown, so the country acquires them from other countries that are in the production season. When the climate changes year-round, spring is the best time to plant the carrot seed, let it germinate over the summer, and harvest in fall or winter.

In snowier climates, like Canada or Michigan, carrots are planted before early spring (mid-March), because when the carrot is harvested after frost dates in fall, they are sweetest. After all, this process helps to store sugars. These regions share a vital factor in producing carrots; they all have similar Mediterranean climates, meaning their summers are hot and dry, but their winters are cool and wet, creating the perfect environment for producing carrots.

Packaging Carrots

“Now that the carrots are ready for distribution, they are packaged in plastic or mesh bags.

After planting, it typically takes 3-4 months to fully grow before they’re ready to harvest. Once the carrots are harvested by hand, they are thrown on a truck bed or trailer and transported to a processing & packing facility. Then, this is where the carrots are washed, dried, Hydro-cooled to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, packaged up, and ready for distribution. Now that the carrots are ready for distribution, they are packaged in plastic or mesh bags. Proper packaging is essential for maintaining freshness, drought, and temperature control. The individually wrapped bundles are shipped in trays, sacks, or crates for damage protection. These stacks are wrapped in either straps or netting. Carrots are easily dehydrated, so it is essential to use a liner to increase moisture retention.

Transporting Carrots Year-Round

Carrots can be transported via trains, trucks, ships, and aircraft. It is vital to ensure carrots are not packed or transported with other produce items that make ethylene, such as apples, bananas, and peaches. If contaminated, the carrots will have a resulting bitter taste. Carrots are transported with humidity levels being 98 to 100%. If carrots don’t stay cool and moist during the trip, heat will run the risk of bacterial growth. Before loading, the consignor needs a written cooling order to set strict guidelines to follow while transporting. Then, the packages are palletized to enable stacking with slits in between rows for the best airflow pattern when using a refrigerated trailer. A reefer trailer is useful for regulating the truck’s temperature, ventilation, and humidity levels. This is the best vehicle to ship carrots via freight. Once the carrots are in the truck, any extra space needs to be filled to prevent the packages from tipping or tumbling.

Worldwide Carrot Imports & Exports

In 2020, the U.S. imported a total of $112 million in carrots. The consistency of imports to each country is responsible for providing carrots year-round and worldwide access.

  • Germany | Carrots were the 2nd most bought vegetable in Germany in 2021. Germany imported the most carrots in 2020, primarily from the Netherlands(34.1%), Denmark(20.8%), and Italy(16.9%).
    • Imported 12.4% of carrots worth $170M
  • The United States | In 2021, the U.S. imported 124k tons of carrots from Mexico and more from Canada, Guatemala, and Costa Rica.
    • Imported 8.16% of carrots worth $112M
  • Canada | Canada consumes about 7.21 kg of carrots per year. The country imported the most carrots from the U.S. (89.9%) in 2020.
    • Imported 7.84% of carrots worth $107M
  • France | Each household in France consumes 9kg of carrots per year. They imported carrots primarily from Belgium and Spain in 2020.
    • Imported 7.19% of carrots worth $98.6M
  • Vietnam | The Cam Giang district of Vietnam yields about 20k metric tons of carrots per year. The major importer in 2020 was China, supplying Vietnam with 99.9% of its carrots.
    • Imported 6.48% of carrots worth $88.9M
  • China | Since China is the largest producer of carrots, they also exported the most out of their country, making them the leading carrot exporter in the world. Most exports are to Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
    • Exported 24.6% of carrots worth $337M
  • The Netherlands | Producing 574k carrots in 2020, The Netherlands exported the most to Germany, Belgium, and France.
    • Exported 11.7% of carrots worth $160M
  • The United States | The U.S. produced 1.6 million carrots in 2020 and primarily exported its carrots to Canada. That year Canada got 84.7% of U.S. carrot exports.
    • Exported 8.31% of carrots worth $114M
  • Spain | Producing 392k metric tons, Spain exported carrots mainly to France, Germany, and The Netherlands in 2020.
    • Exported 6.31% of carrots worth $86.5M
  • Italy | 493k metric tons of carrots were produced in Italy in 2020 and primarily exported to Germany, France, and the U.K.
    • Exported 5.69% of carrots worth $77.9M

Tariffs On Carrots Year-Round

Classified under HS 070610, Carrots are the 3635th ranking in the Product Complexity Index and the 1586th most traded product in the world. It ranked the 121st lowest tariff in 2018. Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein hold the highest import tariffs in the world(225-231%). Mauritius, South Africa, and the United Arab Emirates have the lowest tariff, 0%.

Ship Carrots Year-Round With FreightCenter!

Having some trouble finding a way to ship produce? Let FreightCenter help! We’re experts when it comes to shipping products both nationally and internationally. Our carriers and freight agents can ease you into the process to ensure it’s a smooth ride for both you and your shipment. Use FreightCenter’s free online quote tool to begin. Call our shipping experts at 800.716.7608.

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