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Perishable produce puts more pressure on tight air cargo market.

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Expectations for a strong growing season combined with high fruit demand around the world point to robust exports this year. California cherry harvesting went into full swing earlier this month. After that, stone fruits like peaches and apricots head to market, followed by grapes. Pacific Northwest cherries arrive in early June. And blueberries and blackberries will be shipped in July.

Many producers are increasing their reliance on air transport this season to quickly get their perishable products to customers in Asia and Europe. The extra volume they generate will lead to a further tightening of capacity and push up cargo yields for carriers, logistics managers say.

If air cargo prices escalate too much, however, there is a danger of overseas customer could substitute U.S. produce with lower-grade items or ones sourced from other countries. While most market attention is focused on large inbound trade lanes from Asia and Europe, capacity for air exports is also much tighter than in 2020.

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