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How To Ship Lettuce

Lettuce is a green leafy vegetable that many use in their everyday meals (mainly salads). Eating often will support bone strength, help maintain hydration, and improve vision as well as sleep. Also, many use lettuce for medicinal products to produce vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, and iron. Along with all the benefits of this vegetable, it is important to ship lettuce correctly to avoid spoiling on its trip to the store or a facility for study.

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Where Does Lettuce Ship From?

Top Lettuce Producers

While lettuce grows all over the world, China is the top producer of this vegetable. For example, here are the top 5 worldwide producers of lettuce, where they mainly export to, and how much they produce in millions of tons:

  • China | China leads the world in lettuce production with an output of about 13.5 million tons annually. While they are the main producer, they are the world’s 6th largest exporter.
    • The main destination of Lettuce exports from China are: Hong Kong ($160M), South Korea ($11.8M), and Vietnam ($11.3M)
  • The United States | The United States is the world’s 2nd largest exporter of lettuce. Annually, The U.S. produces 3.6 million tons of lettuce annually.
    • The main destination of Lettuce exports from the United States are: Canada ($429M), Mexico ($34.3M), Chinese Taipei ($22.5M)
  • India | India is the 56th largest exporter of Lettuce in the world, although they are the world’s 3rd top producer. Each year India produces around 1.1 million tons.
    • The main destination of Lettuce exports from India are: the United States ($274k), Nepal ($50.4k), and Kuwait ($40.8k)
  • Spain | Spain produces 0.9 million tons of lettuce yearly. Currently, Spain is the top Exported of Lettuce worldwide.
  • Italy | Italy grows 0.8 million tons worth of lettuce each year.
    • Export markets for Lettuce in Italy are mainly through Germany ($73M), Austria ($25M), and the Netherlands ($21M)

Growing Lettuce In The U.S.

Presently, in the U.S., California, and Arizona grow 99.5% of the lettuce country-wide. Essentially, California (71%) and Arizona (29%) account for the entire lettuce production in the US. While weather changes are drastic in the US, there are certain times when lettuce will grow in California and Arizona. For Arizona, the times of its growth are January – June as well as October – December. Furthermore, California’s months of lettuce production are January – November.

Different Kinds Of Lettuce

Lettuce is the second most popular fresh vegetable behind potatoes. In the US, several varieties of lettuce grow due to the vast environment. The different forms of lettuce can fall under 2 categories, head, and leaf. These are a few of the many examples of the varieties of lettuce that grow around the world:



Head of lettuce
Leaf Lettuce

Harvesting Lettuce To Ship

Lettuce is a cool-weather crop, which means it is very temperature sensitive. After harvesting, the lettuce must move around as little as possible since it is extremely fragile. Lettuce needs to be able to reach oxygen while in crates during shipping Using boxes or crates with openings or holes in them is important. Altogether this will allow the lettuce to stay breathe and not spoil. 

Ship Lettuce

Crates of lettuce ship by reefer trailer. Reefer trailers help maintain temperature control and allow perishable goods to transport over long distances without spoiling. Under ideal conditions, lettuce can stay healthy for 2 up to 3 weeks after harvest. Lettuce’s freezing temperature is 31.6 degrees Fahrenheit. While shipping it is best to store them in a reefer unit that is just above its freezing point at 32 degrees to keep the lettuce freshest. Whether you are shipping domestically or internationally, reefer trailers are a big support to the health of the lettuce that you are shipping.

Shipping Lettuce Internationally

Lettuce can ship internationally by sea and air across countries. Shipping by sea is the most cost-effective way to transport these perishable products. Frozen storage and insulated shipping through reefer containers ensure food reaches its destination in perfect condition. Some of the largest cargo ships can carry 15,000 containers of lettuce or other produce in a single trip.

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International Imports And Exports

The lettuce industry represents 0.017% of the total world trade.

In 2020, $2.93 Billion was spent on the lettuce trade worldwide. Lettuce is currently the world’s 620th most traded product. In that year, the US imported $398M in lettuce.

Worldwide, nearly $3 Billion USD is spent on lettuce shipping. The top 5 International lettuce shippers fulfill more than 75% of the world lettuce trade.

Top Lettuce Exporters

Top Lettuce Importers

  • Spain | $864.1 million (29.5%)
  • The United States | $538.4 million (18.4%)
  • Mexico | $335.2 million (11.5%)
  • Netherlands | $282.3 million (9.7%)
  • Italy | $218.8 million (7.5%)

Tariffs To Ship Lettuce

The average U.S. tariff for lettuce is 20.1%. On a global scale, the U.S has the 104th lowest tariff rate. While the countries with the lowest tariffs are Mauritius, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, and Kuwait all at 0%.

Here are the 5 highest tariff rates in the global lettuce trade:

Presently Lettuce ranks 748th in the Product Complexity Index (PCI). The PCI is what ranks the accessibility of the product by country. For example, products with a high PCI value are products that not all countries can produce.

Ship With Us!

Have 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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