FreightWaves Flashback 1961 – Orange juice cold chain flows from Port Canaveral to NY

The many industries that make up the world of freight have undergone tremendous change over the past several decades. Each Friday, FreightWaves explores the archives of American Shipper’s nearly 70-year-old collection of shipping and maritime publications to showcase interesting freight stories of long ago.

The following is an excerpt from the May 1961 edition of The Florida Journal of Commerce.

SS Tropicana is pipe-line from Canaveral to Gotham

When first conceived in the late 1800s, Port Canaveral was to be a citrus port. Today, citrus is there, but it’s not measured in boxes, as was first visioned. Instead, gallons of orange juice, and not boxes of Florida’s golden fruit, are shipped from the fast-growing port.

The “golden stream,” as it is now known, is accomplished through gleaming stainless steel pipelines and stainless steel refrigerated holds of the good ship S.S. Tropicana.

Millions of gallons of orange juice are shipped from Port Canaveral to homes throughout 40 states. Once the S.S. Tropicana leaves Port Canaveral, it heads for Whitestone, Long Island, New York where the fresh orange juice is packaged in cartons and then delivered all over the country.

The S.S. Tropicana makes a round trip to Long Island every eight days with 650,000 gallons of juice. Soon, the capacity will be increased to 1,450,000 gallons. Behind this operation, which has meant so much to the progress of the port, is Anthony T. Rossi, who founded Fruit Industries, Inc. in 1947 at Bradenton, Florida. It is the world’s largest producer and shipper of cartoned orange juice. 

Tropicana now is a dominating company brand at Port Canaveral. Rossi was one of the first company leaders to select the port as a base of operation. The $5 million plant at Canaveral covers 21 acres and has nine buildings, including a cold storage area measuring 1.5 million cubic feet. This plant has the largest cold storage room in the South and used 43 car-loads of insulation and 480 tons of refrigeration.

The company employs 1,200 people in three plants and has its own fruit buyers, pickers and trucks. Tropicana owns 130 brilliant blue citrus hauling trucks and 85 long-haul refrigerated trucks. 

Oranges are brought to the Tropicana plant at the Port and are graded, washed, scrubbed and inspected. Then the oranges are squeezed by 65 machines especially equipped to remove all rind and oil. The juice flows through stainless steel tanks to holding tanks, where the temperature is reduced to 28 degrees. From there it is pumped into the ship’s tanks.

The S.S. Tropicana was built in 1945 as a general cargo ship and was formerly named “Cape Avinoff.”

Upon reaching the plant at Whitestone, the fresh orange juice in the holds is pumped through four-inch stainless steel pipes into 10 refrigerated tanks inside the plant. Juice then flows through the pipes to six filling machines, each of which fills 140 quarts of orange juice per minute.