Fruit Maker Uses Ex-Im To Ship Food Overseas

Los Kitos Produce, LLC – Orange County, California

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Los Kitos Produce, LLC ships world famous California-grown oranges, cantaloupes, and strawberries to markets as diverse as Mexico, China, Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Founded four years ago by Martha Montoya, an industry professional with twenty years’ experience, Los Kitos has seen tremendous success. Exports increased from 5 percent of sales to 25 percent, and sales have tripled in just the last two years. And all of this has been made possible by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank).

Located in Orange County, California, Los Kitos Produce directly employs 11 people at its headquarters. Indirectly, Los Kitos supports between 800-900 workers involved in the growing, packing, and shipping of produce. Like many small exporters, Montoya uses Ex-Im’s credit insurance. “Ex-Im Bank gives peace of mind to the growers themselves,” she says. “If something goes wrong, they know they have an umbrella to protect them. They know they will be paid.”

Los Kitos Produce, LLC has also enjoyed the benefits of free trade agreements (FTAs) with other countries that have paved the way for the export of U.S. products. “NAFTA is really good for us,” says Montoya. “The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement has also really helped.” As a result, Saudi Arabians can enjoy California-raised strawberries while Koreans snack on oranges straight out of Orange County.

However, trouble looms on the horizon. On September 30, the Export-Import Bank’s charter is set to expire. Montoya explains the effect it would have on her business: “Without the Ex-Im Bank, I’d lose my grower’s trust to ship overseas.”

After all, Los Kito’s growers are small businesses operating on low margins. “Our growers reinvest everything back into their business and back into their community,” says Montoya. “They can’t afford to risk not being paid.” Ex-Im supports these microbusinesses by giving them the security they need to export and create new jobs. Montoya concludes, “Congress needs to support American small businesses by reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank. The bottom line is: without Ex-Im Bank, we wouldn’t be able to export.”