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How to Ship Broccoli

The U.S. is the third largest producer of broccoli in the world. The U.S. produced 1,247,490 tons of broccoli in 2020 with California accounting for roughly 90% of the overall production. Broccoli’s popularity has continued to grow over the last two decades and in 2021 it was voted America’s favorite vegetable according to a Green Giant® survey conducted by vegetable brand Green Giant. Local broccoli producers ship their products domestically or globally in the trade market.

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What Is Broccoli?

Part of the mustard family, broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. Other cruciferous veggies include cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, brussels sprouts, collards, watercress, and radishes. Cooked, boiled, or raw on a platter, broccoli has been a favored delicacy for centuries. As a rich source of nutrients, this vegetable supplies a whole fist full of vitamins in a 1 cup (91 grams) portion. There are many benefits of this delicacy including dishes in different cultures or as a natural remedy for health improvement. Several countries ship broccoli all over the world supporting other nations as well as the global trade in the supply chain.

How To Ship Broccoli


Key signs that broccoli is ready for harvest are:

  • Firm head.
  • Size of the head (Broccoli heads will typically get to be 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 cm.) wide when it is time to harvest).
  • The size of the florets on the outer edge of the head is the size of a match head.
  • The color of the florets should be deep green. If you see even a hint of yellow, the florets are starting to bloom or bolt. Harvest the broccoli immediately if this happens.


Due to its sensitivity to other produce items, including those that give off ethylene, broccoli is typically shipped by itself. Exposure to fruits and vegetables classified as “climacteric produce” will cause broccoli to yellow, leading to rapid spoiling. Climacteric fruits include apples, bananas, cantaloupe, pears, peaches, avocados, and blueberries, among others. Despite this sensitivity, broccolis can afford to be tightly bunched in transit, allowing for increased loads per crate. Broccoli should be transported using fiberboard boxes with ventilation slits.

Boxes should be stacked to allow for space in between boxes. These extra spaces and slits will allow for top ice to melt and drip down to the lower boxes, as well as allow airflow to and from each box of the product. Broccoli should be transported using a refrigerated truck or reefer trailer to ensure temperature control throughout the shipping process. Temperatures should remain at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and at a 95-100 humidity point. Failure to do so can lead to spoiling of the product ahead of its arrival to market.

Top Varieties Of Broccoli

  • Belstar | A compact, heat-tolerant hybrid variety. The 16-20 inch plant forms 6-8 inch blue-green heads.
  • Calabrese | This type of broccoli has a thick stem and 4-5 inches large central head with dark green, tight tiny buds.
  • Destiny | This grows medium green rounded heads on a 12-18 inch dwarf plant. This variety does not produce side shoots. (This is one of the most popular types of broccoli).
  • DiCicco | An Italian heirloom variety ideal for zones 3-10. It produces small to medium-sized blue-green heads and side shoots.
  • Eastern Magic | A flavorful, large blue-green head. This heat-tolerant variety performs well in both spring and fall.
  • Green Magic | A hybrid variety that produces medium-sized, smooth, and well-domed crowns. It has a distinct buttery flavor.
  • Purple Sprouting | This variety of broccoli forms multiple purple florets on each stem instead of a single large head.
  • Romanesco | Grown in Italy for centuries, it has a stunning green color and produces spiral pointed florets.
  • Sun King | Heat-tolerant variety. This delicious broccoli has 6-8 inch blue-green heads with lots of side shoots.
  • Waltham 29 | Known for high productivity and the number of side shoots it grows after the main head is harvested.

After the main head is harvested, you can begin to cut the side shoots from the stalk. These will grow like tiny heads beside the main head.

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Nutrition Benefits

The nutrition facts for 1 cup of raw broccoli are:

  • Calories: 31
  • Water: 89%
  • Protein: 2.5 grams
  • Carbs: 6 grams
  • Sugar: 1.5 grams
  • Fiber: 2.4 grams
  • Fat: 0.4 grams

Where does Broccoli Grow?

Broccoli was discovered by the Etruscans in Italy from the Mediterranean territory during ancient Roman times around the sixth century. In the early 1700s, it expanded to England and then worldwide. Although being one of the world’s top producers, broccoli is a fairly new crop to Americans compared to many other fresh produce products.

Domestically Ship Broccoli

Currently, California produces over 90 percent of the United States broccoli. Other states that grow and ship include Wisconsin, Ohio, Arizona, Maine, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, and Florida. With wide varieties of this veggie growing all over the country consistently, shipping fresh broccoli is a year-round industry.

Internationally Ship Broccoli

The top 10 producing countries of fresh broccoli are China, India, the US, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Turkey, Bangladesh, France, and Algeria.


World Trade 2020

Production (metric tons)

  • 37.21%
  • 34.67%
  • 4.94%
  • 2.93%
  • 2.69%
  • 1.43%
  • 1.22%
  • 1.11%
  • 1.01%
  • 0.95%
  • 9.49M
  • 8.84M
  • 1.26M
  • 746.51K
  • 686.79K
  • 365.36K
  • 311.39K
  • 283.16K
  • 257.13K
  • 242.99K

2022 U.S. Broccoli Import/Export Rankings

Top Countries Importing from the U.S.

Top Countries Exporting to the U.S.

  1. Spain | $547.24M | (33.31%)
  2. Mexico | $357.36M | (21.75%)
  3. United States | $163.73M | (9.97%)
  4. France | $111.12M | (6.76%)
  5. Italy | $103.88M | (6.32%)
  1. United Kingdom | $222.31M | (16.11%)
  2. Canada | $148.89M | (10.79%)
  3. United States | $124.63M | (9.03%)
  4. Germany | $101.59M | (7.36%)
  5. Malaysia | $73.75M | (5.34%)
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World Trade: Ship Broccoli All Over The Globe

When shipping overseas, broccoli falls under the tariff category “Cauliflowers and headed broccoli, fresh or chilled.” Broccoli ranked as the world’s 1,587th most traded product with a total trade of $1.37 billion in 2020. Global trade in cauliflowers and headed broccoli represent 0.0082% of total world trade.

Tariffs To Ship Broccoli

In 2018 the average tariff for Cauliflowers and headed broccoli, fresh or chilled was 19.8%. This makes it the 571st lowest tariff. The countries with the highest import tariffs on headed broccoli are Turkmenistan (100%), Cyprus (82.9%), Lebanon (68.5%), and Iran (55%). The countries with the lowest tariffs are Mauritius, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Kuwait, all with a 0% mark.

Ship With Us!

Need to ship some broccoli? Let FreightCenter help! We’re experts when it comes to shipping produce both nationally and internationally. Our freight agents will be more than happy to help walk you through the shipping process to ensure it’s a smooth ride for you and your shipment. Call our shipping experts at 800.716.7608 or run a free online quote today!

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