Chiquita to source bananas from Africa
Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. on Tuesday announced long-term strategic associations in Africa for the export of bananas to the company’s core European markets.
The partnerships in Angola with ESCOM, a member of Grupo Espirito Santo, and in Mozambique with Matanuska Africa Ltd. are expected to create about 6,000 direct jobs. Commercial exports expected to start in 2010.
The New York-listed banana company said the projects would provide an expected 20 percent to 30 percent of its premium quality fruit volume for European markets, on a tariff free basis.
Chiquita said the decision to expand its African presence was based on the assessment that sourcing from Africa would continue to be cost-competitive, even if there are future significant reductions in the import tariff rate applied on Latin American bananas imported into the European Union.
“We believe that starting banana production in Angola and Mozambique is an important strategic step that will be very cost-competitive regardless of the eventual outcome of the challenges to the EU tariff import regime,” said Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We are confident that by leveraging our technical knowledge with the expertise of our new partners, whose core business is based on a strong history of operating success in Africa, we will ensure the reliable production of high-quality, Chiquita-branded fruit.”
Chiquita said that while it will not provide capital for either project, it will support them with its expertise in farm development, good agricultural practices, training of local workers, logistics, marketing and distribution to European markets.