FreightWaves Flashback 1963: Florida berries to Germany

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 June 1963 edition of The Florida Journal of Commerce.

Regular shipments of 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of Florida strawberries titillated the palates of prosperous Germans during the winter months of January and February this year.

Arrangements for the shipment of the delicate, perishable berries were the result of a personal call by Phil S. Eby, Lufthansa Airlines cargo manager in the Southeast, on A. Flatoe, head of Comarket, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Flatoe, an American, was already importing Florida citrus concentrate and was interested in importing fresh strawberries from Florida during the winter months before Mediterranean berries became available.

Eby put Flatoe in touch with Joseph M. Cerniglia, president of American Foods in Miami, and soon flats of strawberries were winging their way twice a week across the Atlantic to bring a taste of Florida sunshine to winter-weary hausfraus.

Regular delivery

During the Florida strawberry season, Flatoe called American Foods by transatlantic phone each week to place his orders, which were then flown via Northeast Airlines jet to New York’s Idlewild Airport, then transferred to Lufthansa Boeing 707 jets for the flight to Europe.

The strawberries, packed into units of two interlocking flats of 12 pints each, were precooled by Lufthansa in New York to 38-40° F. prior to loading, and they arrived in Frankfurt in prime, salable condition, bringing a retail price of $2.40 per pint on the German market.

Probably more U.S. strawberries are flown to Germany by Lufthansa than by any other airline in the world. Direct flight service brings California berries to Munich during the winter months.

The largest, single shipment of Florida strawberries to Frankfurt consisted of 1,200 pounds of Parkesdale Farm’s strawberries. Roy Parke, the Plant City grower, is a leading exporter of the fresh tangy berries.

Eby praises highly the fine cooperation of Northeast Airlines in handling the perishable cargo on its Miami-New York flights. The cooling and conveyor loading into Lufthansa jets at Idlewild are accomplished speedily so that the berries arrive at their destination less than two days after being picked in the sunny Florida fields.

Other cargo

Lufthansa, the fifth largest airline in the world, also carries large quantities of other Florida products to northern Europe on its eastbound flights. Among these exports are electronic components, fresh flowers, live tropical plants, plastics, chemicals, and Miami-designed clothing.

On westbound flights from Germany to New York, Lufthansa jets bring German-made clothing, toys, shoes, sporting equipment, silverware, and medical equipment to New York for distribution in the U.S.

Cargo manager Eby, whose office is in Miami, reports that Lufthansa business in the Southeast is increasing rapidly. “As the Southeast grows, so do we,” he commented.

A pioneer in world-wide marketing services, Lufthansa’s jet network links major cities on five continents.