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How To Ship Strawberries

Once highly seasonal, strawberries are now available year-round, thanks to selective breeding, advanced import and export strategies, and new techniques for pruning and growing. Additionally, strawberries can now be grown in areas where they previously weren’t able to survive. However, strawberries are still fragile cargo, and susceptible to damage and disease when shipping. It’s important that they are stored and transported in a continuously temperature-controlled environment, to ensure that they arrive fresh and tasty.

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Need to Ship Strawberries?

America is a hotspot for fresh strawberries. Global export sales during 2020 totaled nearly USD 2.9 billion worth of fresh strawberries. America is the second-largest producer and the third-largest exporter in the world. In 2020, USD 477 million worth of strawberries were sold worldwide from American farms.

Where Strawberries Grow Domestically

In the United States, fresh strawberries grow mostly in California and Florida, followed by New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington. California and Florida together make up about 98% of all strawberry production and shipments in the U.S. annually. California is a giant in the industry, producing over 2.5 billion pounds of strawberries each year. Additionally, Florida produces about 245 million strawberries each year.

99% of U.S. fresh strawberry imports are from Mexico during the “off-season” for strawberries in the American market. These times of trade with Mexico are from winter through early spring (December through March).

Ship Strawberries Abroad

The worldwide production of strawberries has been rising since the turn of the century. A spike in production leads to more global export opportunities. America has had a strong hand in the strawberry industry over the last two decades, shipping millions of dollars worth of strawberries yearly.

Direct transport for fresh strawberries is always the best option because the more movements, the higher the risk of a change of temperature and therefore a potential reduction in fruit quality. Other strategies include:

  • Pre-cool produce to its desired temperature.
  • Use refrigerated transport to the airport.
  • Pack boxes of produce as densely as possible.
  • Protect produce from direct sun or other heat sources.
  • Use insulated aircraft pallets wherever possible or cover pallets with flexible insulating material.
  • Log data so temperature maintenance can be viewed while shipping.
  • Use dry ice to keep the product cool during overseas shipments.

Correct Packaging For Shipping Strawberries

Strawberries, after harvest, are packaged in covered containers with plastic. They can’t come out of the containers until the berries naturally release field heat. This occurs at room temperature and can take up to several hours. Once they are picked and boxed, strawberries are placed carefully in wooden crates before being loaded onto shipping pallets. Much like other produce items, strawberries need to be shipped using a temperature-controlled trailer. Reefer trailers help maintain temperature control and allow perishable goods to transport over long distances without spoiling. Even under ideal conditions, strawberries can rarely be kept for more than seven days after harvest. Strawberries should be pre-cooled to 32°F before transit. During transportation, they should remain 32°F and 34°F.

When Are Strawberries In Season?

Strawberries are a “light density” produce and are extremely susceptible to bruising and aging. Rough handling at harvest or at any time during shipment will cause fungal growth and decay of the crop. In addition, fruit quality declines quickly throughout its travel and throughout its season span. For this reason, strawberry shipping is a year-round task. There is a yearly need for expensive upkeep and re-mulching, this is what makes shipping strawberries a year-round industry.

Since this is quite a fragile fruit it is best to stay ahead of the wave. For example, the national strawberry season runs from January through November. Although you can almost consider it an “all-season” crop because of the many locations where they grow. In the south, strawberry harvests usually take place in late April and May. In the middle part of the country, May and June are ideal times for harvesting.

What Kinds Of Strawberries Are There?

Here are the top ten types of strawberries sold and grown in the United States:

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Top 10 Strawberry Producers

The list below is the 10 countries that produced strawberries during 2020 (Measured in Metric Tons):

Top 10 Strawberry Exporters

The list below is the 10 countries that exported the highest US dollar value worth of strawberries during 2020:

  • Greece: $81.9 million (2.9%)
  • Egypt: $78.5 million (2.8%)
  • Morocco: $62.8 million (2.2%)
  • South Korea: $53 million (1.9%)
  • Italy: $36.2 million (1.3%)

Taxes To Ship Strawberries

Strawberries are the world’s 939th most traded product. From 2019 to 2020 the total exports grew from $2.87B to $2.99B (USD). The average worldwide tariff rate on strawberries is 21.8%. Whereas in countries like Iran (90%), Lebanon (68.5%), and Turkey (55.3%) import tax rates on strawberries is much higher. Countries like Mauritius (0%), United Arab Emirates (0%), and Hong Kong (0%) have little to no taxes.

Ship With Us

Are you looking for a better, more affordable 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 help you through the shipping process, ensuring a smooth ride for both you and your shipment. Use FreightCenter’s free online quote tool to begin or call one of our shipping experts at 800.716.7608.

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