Chiquita Brands International’s shipping operations are returning to Louisiana’s Port of New Orleans after a long absence.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal joined Chiquita SVP Mario Pacheco Wednesday to make the announcement that the company would relocate its shipping from the hub of Gulfport, Miss. Chiquita plans to move 60,000-78,000 TEUs (20-ft.-equivalent units) at the port each year, which would be roughly 15 percent higher than current container volumes. The move also is expected to generate between 270-350 new jobs, as well as an increase in economic output of $373-$485 million over the next 10 years.
The company left Louisiana in the 1970s when it went under the name United Brands, after seven decades of calling at the Port of New Orleans.
“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,” Jindal said. “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. These efforts, combined with our progress in improving our state’s business climate, have led to record-high employment levels in Louisiana and the lowest unemployment rate in the South.”
Around half of the containers will be bananas and other fruit coming into the port, while the other half will comprise various outbound cargos. The first shipments are expected to start in 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,” Pacheco said. “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.”