The freighter Spring Delight left the port of Long Beach last week bound for Japan with a 3,600-ton cargo of California grapefruit, lemons and oranges--including the 200-millionth carton of citrus exported by Sunkist Growers through its charter agent at the port.
It was the 1,357th such export sailing since the marketing cooperative sent its first load of citrus out of Long Beach on a chartered Salen Shipping Agencies vessel in January, 1970.
Exports account for about 30% of Sunkist's total fresh fruit sales, said President Russell L. Hanlin, and the 20 million cartons shipped last year were valued at $232 million. Sunkist's principal overseas markets are Japan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and Western Europe.
"Export is not an easy business, especially when dealing with a perishable commodity," Hanlin said. The task requires refrigerated vessels, such as those operated by Salen, that can be quickly loaded and unloaded and offer quality control aboard ship and reliable scheduling, he added.
Beyond that, export requires contending with "discriminatory tariffs and other trade barriers," as well as such variables as currency exchange rates, insurance and transportation costs.