To transport frozen orange juice concentrate to markets across the globe, Cargill designs a special bulk carrier ship.
In 1976, Cargill purchased a small citrus processing plant in Bebedouro, Brazil. It was the company’s first step into the orange juice business—an industry that would change dramatically in the years to come, thanks to a Cargill innovation. At the time, orange juice concentrate was typically frozen to -20° C and transported in drums to preserve nutrition and freshness. Looking for a way to increase shipping efficiency, Cargill began searching for a way to handle frozen concentrated orange juice in bulk.
A professor at the University of Berlin determined that orange juice only needed to be frozen to -10° C to maintain quality and taste. To transport the frozen orange juice, Cargill converted a container ship, the M/V Bebedouro, and installed stainless-steel tanks and special refrigeration, plumbing and pumping systems. The transformed Bebedouro was the first vessel of its kind to be used in the citrus industry. In October 1980, the Bebedouro made its first trip—a 17-day trek—from the Brazilian port of Santos to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands.
To save weight, the frozen orange juice shipped aboard the Bebedouro was more concentrated than what was available in supermarkets. Once in Amsterdam, the frozen orange juice was loaded directly from the Bebedouro to a tank farm, and then driven by tanker trucks to the plants of Cargill’s European customers. Every step of the process used specially designed and sanitized cooling equipment.
The Bebedouro revolutionized the business, saving Cargill more than US $300 per ton of frozen orange juice shipped. Cargill ordered the construction of another shipping vessel, which was completed in 1986. Additional ports were built in the United States, which was the largest consumer of orange juice, and Japan, which was a relatively new consumer of orange juice.
Cargill had many profitable years with frozen orange juice production and transportation. Though the company exited the orange juice business in 2007, the Bebedouro method of shipping quickly became the industry standard, lowering transportation prices and opening the Brazilian orange juice business to the global market.