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Chiquita strikes deal for U.S. shipments

Staff writer |
The company that transports fruit for Chiquita has reached an agreement to establish a container shipping service between Central America and the U.S.

How this impacts Chiquita’s facilities planned for New Orleans is uncertain.

The industry journal American Shipper reports that the space-sharing agreement between Great White Fleet and Mediterranean Shipping Co. will initially create a service that will use five ships that MSC owns or charters to handle Chiquita cargo.

A Federal Maritime Commission filing indicates the ships will sail from Central America to the U.S. East Coast, Gulf Coast and the Bahamas, according to American Shipper.

MSC typically berths its ships at the Port of New Orleans’ Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal.

Chiquita announced in May it will move its Gulf Coast operations from Gulfport, Mississippi, to New Orleans

The company has been looking for a site at the Port of New Orleans to build a 40,000-square-foot ripening shed or move into an existing facility. The company hopes to move out of space it is leasing in Gulfport and begin operating in New Orleans by October.

Port of New Orleans officials said today they have not heard whether the agreement between Great White Fleet and MSC means that Chiquita has found the space it needs for a ripening facility.

Meanwhile, Chiquita has postponed a vote on its proposed merger with Irish fruit company Fyffes until next month. Chiquita is seeking a final buyout offer from Cutrale and Safra, a Brazilian partnership that had previously offered $611 million.

Port officials have said they don’t anticipate a buyout would affect Chiquita’s decision to move its Gulf Coast operations to New Orleans. The company recently reached an agreement with the Port of Gulfport to remain there through the end of the year.

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