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Chiquita Brands To Relocate Shipping Operations Hub To Port Of New Orleans, Louisiana

Area Development Online News Desk (05/14/2014)
Chiquita Brands International will relocate its shipping operations from the Port of Gulfport in Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chiquita plans to ship 60,000 to 78,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units, per year at the Port of New Orleans, representing a roughly 15 percent increase in current container volumes there, according to Louisiana Economic Development. Chiquita plans to ship 30,000 to 39,000 TEUs of bananas and other fresh fruit into the Port of New Orleans, as well as 30,000 to 39,000 TEUs of various outbound cargos. Company shipments in New Orleans are expected to begin by the first quarter of 2015.

“We at Chiquita are thrilled to return to the port and the great city of New Orleans as we implement a new shipping configuration,” Chiquita Brands International Inc. Senior Vice President Mario Pacheco, who supervises the company’s global logistics. “We are particularly excited about the enhanced service levels to our Chiquita and Great White Fleet customers that will result from this change in our shipping operations and expanded vessel capacity. We have valued our partnership with the Port of Gulfport and thank them for many years of great service. This was a clear business decision for us surrounding our new shipping configuration rather than any dissatisfaction with the strong and economically competitive team we have had at Gulfport.”

Chiquita’s shipping operations will return to New Orleans after a nearly 40-year hiatus. The company, known as United Brands in the 1970s, relocated its shipping operations from the Port of New Orleans to the Port of Gulfport in the mid-1970s after more than seven decades of calling at the Port of New Orleans. An LSU economic impact study suggests the project will result in approximately 270 to 350 new permanent jobs in New Orleans, based upon the range of TEUs shipped, as well as an increase in total economic output of $373 million to $485 million over the next 10 years.

Governor Bobby Jindal said, “This is a huge, historic win for the Port of New Orleans and for trade in our state. We are excited to welcome back Chiquita after a nearly 40-year hiatus. Since day one, we have made economic development our top priority, and a big part of that has been investing in our ports to cultivate job-creating projects in Louisiana. In fact, since 2008, we’ve invested hundreds of millions in port infrastructure and port-related economic-development projects all across Louisiana.”

To secure the project, the State of Louisiana will provide Chiquita a performance-based incentive of $18.55 per TEU (total value of $1.11 million to 1.45 million annually) to offset increased shipping and handling costs at the Port of New Orleans, and will invest $2.2 million in a port-owned distribution/ripening facility to be leased to Chiquita. In addition, The Port of New Orleans will invest $2.0 million for refrigerated-container electrical infrastructure and rehabilitation of a container freight warehouse to accommodate the project.

“This is truly a great day for our state, and the Louisiana Board of International Commerce is proud to welcome Chiquita back to our community,” said Chairman Greg Rusovich of the Louisiana Board of International Commerce. “Louisiana is laser-focused on being the U.S. leader in global trade and job creation. Our region and state have the hot hand, and this announcement is a further testament to the strong partnership emerging between this world-class company and our economic and global trade leaders.”

“Greater New Orleans Inc. is proud to be part of the team that has helped bring Chiquita Brands International back to New Orleans after 40 years,” GNO President/CEO Michael Hecht said. “Chiquita’s return is a double-win for the region. First, we are gaining up to 350 new jobs and a major increase in containerized cargo. But even more importantly, Chiquita’s return to New Orleans heralds a broader, deeply important trend – the best people and companies are coming home.”

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