Chiquita returns to New Orleans port
Chiquita Brands International will relocate its shipping operations from the Port of Gulfport in Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans.
The banana and fruit company plans to ship 60,000 TEUs to 70,000 TEUs of cargo per year via New Orleans, generating a 15-percent increase in container volumes at the Louisiana port.
Chiquita’s ships called New Orleans about 40 years ago, but moved to Gulfport in the mid-1970s.
“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,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a statement on Wednesday.
The move will strengthen both the state’s and the New Orleans port’s ties to Central America.
Chiquita will move 30,000 TEUs to 39,000 TEUs of bananas and other fresh fruit into the Port of New Orleans, as well as 30,000 TEUs to 39,000 TEUs of various outbound cargos. Company shipments in New Orleans are expected to begin by the first quarter of 2015.
“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,” said Mario Pacheco, Chiquita’s senior vice president.
“We have valued our partnership with the Port of Gulfport and thank them for many years of great service,” he added. “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.”
To secure the project, the state of Louisiana will provide Chiquita a “performance-based incentive” of $18.55 per TEU, or a 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. The Port of New Orleans will invest $2 million for refrigerated-container electrical infrastructure and rehabilitation of a container freight warehouse to accommodate the project.
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