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Another Blow To Sunkist

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, February 13, 2007

As if the freeze and the loss of Bee Sweet Citrus wasn’t enough, it seems that a charter ship deal that gave Sunkist a material advantage in selling to Japan is now over.

While at Fruit Logistica, a friend in the banana business tells us that Sunkist has benefited from a special arrangement with Lauritzen-Cool for sharing a charter ship to Japan. It seems that the Japanese will buy too few bananas from Ecuador to fill the ships and the charter service is being cancelled. Now Sunkist must use containers like everyone else to Japan.

Although the Sunkist brand is super strong in Japan, some Japanese trade buyers feel that Sunkist used its shipping advantage to dictate terms. Now that Sunkist is no longer wielding the charter-boat club, for the first time in years these buyers are looking for alternatives to buying Sunkist.

Of course, freezes and charter boats are temporary phenomena; it is governance that is a long term problem. At Sunkist, a wacky Federated Co-Op structure has put packers, whose interests often conflict with growers, in places of enormous influence.

This long term problem must be resolved for Sunkist and its growers to prosper.

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