There’s nothing new about backloading, it’s been going on for centuries because it reduces the costs of transport.
Once shipping started, backloading also provided ballast which is why the interiors of the beautiful old stone buildings in Oamaru’s historic precinct feature imported timber. It came back as ballast on the sailing ships which carried grain to the USA and Britain.
However, backloading requires willing buyers at both ends of the journey. If the market for produce going one way dries up it interferes with the transport of the backload which is what’s happened with The Grapefruits of Wrath .
Some 60% of 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.
But grapefruit are the backload in ships which take Japanese vehicles to the USA. Now the market for cars has soured, vehicle shipments have reduced and grapefruit are stuck in the USA.
Consumers in Japan will face rising prices as the supply of grapefruit drops and grapefruit growers in Florida are left with falling demand and a subsequent fall in their returns because of carmageddon – the drop in demand for vehicles.
Hat Tip: Frenemy