Is Chiquita Pulling Out of New Orleans Two Years After Its Return?
NEW ORLEANS, LA - Just two years after its celebrated return, could Chiquita look to be once again leaving its New Orleans home?
Those are the whispers around the docks of the Louisiana ports, according to Matt Gresham, Director of External Affairs for the Port of New Orleans.
"The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans is aware of Chiquita's potential interest in pursuing other strategic shipping options. The board has received no official notice from Chiquita,” Gresham said in a statement to the Sun Herald late last week.
As we have reported previously, Chiquita returned to New Orleans in 2014 after nearly 40 years, bringing 350 new jobs to the area. Part of the deal included $15 million in incentives from the state and port, according to Bloomberg, as well as an offer of 10 years of subsidies estimated at $1.1 million to $1.5 million a year from the state, based on how much cargo Chiquita handles in New Orleans, and more.
"The board values its relationship with Chiquita and will work with terminal operators, the state of Louisiana, and shipping partners to continue the relationship going forward,” Gresham added. “Port staff and local and state stakeholders consistently seek new services and customers for its terminals to build upon its growing break-bulk and container business.”
It is news that Gulfport hopes means that Chiquita will return to them after 40 years of working together.
"We've been involved with Chiquita since the time that they left," Jonathan Daniels, Executive Director for the Port of Gulfport, told the Sun Herald. "I have not received anything, but we do hope that if they move from New Orleans, Gulfport, with its long history with Chiquita, will be considered as an option."
Though Chiquita originally planned to exit Gulfport completely in 2014, leaving a ripple of unemployment in its wake, Daniels reported that it continues to store produce for ripening at John Fayard Warehousing in Gulfport, with the brand’s containers regularly visiting the port for freight shipments.
Gresham informed the Sun Herald that that in 2015, Chiquita represented about 4.8 percent of the Port of New Orleans’ total container tonnage with 244,861 tons of bananas shipped in the year.
No official announcement has been made of the banana giant’s intention to move, so AndNowUKnow will continue to follow the story as it develops further.