By on April 4, 2009

Unintended consequences are the meme du jour in blogoville. Here comes a juicy one: Grapefruits. Carmageddon is severely upsetting the international grapefruit trade, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Here’s why:

Some 60 percentof the grapefruits consumed in Japan are grown in Florida. Floridian grapefruits account for almost all the grapefruits sold in Japan around this time of year.

Ever wondered what’s in those huge car carriers on their return voyage from delivering cars from Japan to the US? Exactly. Grapefruits. US shipping firm Great American Lines Inc.’s Sunbelt Spirit is one of the few vehicle carriers in the world that has refrigerated holds for carrying agricultural products. Because it can carry as many as ten times more grapefruits than conventional container ships, transport costs are lower. Result: This vessel alone delivers almost a fifth of all Florida grapefruits shipped to Japan.

Now the tart part: “The ship’s March voyage was its sole round trip scheduled for this season, which runs from last November to this June, compared with the three last season,” says the Nikkei. Its main business of carrying Toyota and other Japanese-made vehicles is, well, rotten. As a result, Japanese imports of Florida grapefruits are expected to fall by about 20% in volume terms.

Currently, grapefruits are sold for about a dollar each at supermarkets in Tokyo. Japanese grapefruit lovers are girding for higher prices because the juicy fruit will be in short supply. The next unintended consequence: Florida grapefruit growers want their bailout, too.

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14 Comments on “The Grapefruits Of Wrath...”

  • avatar

    No word yet on whether the Florida grapefruit industry will be forced to merge with FIAT as a key condition for receiving funds?

  • avatar

    The Baltic Dry Index was making a bit of a comeback entering 2009 but it’s heading back in the wrong direction again :(

  • avatar

    Being in the export business, I just LOVE where that index currently is.

  • avatar

    The other unintended consequence is that grapefruits are real inexpensive around here.
    Why do you love that Bertel?
    Less expensive shipping?

    Yes it is true that economics is all based on supply and demand.

  • avatar

    Less expensive shipping?

    Exactly. I can get a container from China to Europe for 1/10 of what it cost a year ago.

  • avatar

    Yeah, the Baltic Dry Index being low favors people directly involved with buying capacity based on the shipping contracts and it also favors businesses buying raw materials. But it sucks for everyone else since it usually means the economy is in the crapper.

    I guess the Baltic Dry doesn’t apply to Florida Grapefruits anyway.

  • avatar

    The next unintended consequence: Florida grapefruit growers want their bailout, too.

    Don’t given any ideas. Florida sugar growers are so protected that Americans pay 3x the world price.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a butterfly flapped its wings, and now look.

  • avatar

    The problem with meddling with markets is you end up meddling with them all. No such thing as limited interventions or just a simple bailout over here. You own the entire thing. Pretty soon you’re getting asked what you plan to do about everything from grapefruit sales to a Dodge minivan.

  • avatar

    mtypex :

    No word yet on whether the Florida grapefruit industry will be forced to merge with FIAT as a key condition for receiving funds?

    Now that was just plain funny!

  • avatar

    I have lived in Japan for over 26 years. Grapefruits I buy come from Florida maybe 20% of the time. Most come from Israel or South Africa and usually cost about $1.50.

    A friend of mine told me some time ago that the ships used for Hondas to the US return filled up with California almonds.

  • avatar

    So, the Japanese jam us with big piles of rusting metal, grease and toxic chemicals, and in return we send them delicious food? Boy they ARE winning the trade war!

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