Friday, May 16, 2014

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Chiquita to return to import facilities at Port of New Orleans

Banana and produce giant, Chiquita, will to return to their Gulf Coast import facilities at the Port of New Orleans after a 40-year absence, the company announced.

The company said it would ship between 60,000 and 78,000 TEUs every year through the Port of New Orleans, officials said. Once called United Brands, the company shipped through New Orleans for 70 years before relocating to the Port of Gulfport in the 1970s.

The first shipments should start in the first quarter of 2015, the company said. Half the shipments will be banana and fresh fruit imports, while the other half will be outbound cargo.

The state will spend $2.2 million on a port-owned distribution and ripening facility that will be leased to Chiquita.

As part of incentive agreement, Louisiana will pay Chiquita $18.55 per TEU, or about $1.11 million to $1.45 million annually, "to offset increasing shipping and handling costs" at the New Orleans port, officials said.

The port agreed to invest $2 million for refrigerated-container electrical infrastructure and rehabilitation of a container freight warehouse.

In March, Chiquita Brands International and tropical produce importer Fyffes PLC announced a merger of the two firms into the biggest banana company in the world, with annual revenues of $4.6 billion and banana sales of more than 160 million containers each year.

For more of the Times-Picayune story:

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