Based in Charlotte, N.C., Chiquita plans to relocate operations from Gulfport, Miss., to The Crescent City in early 2015. During the mid-1970s, Chiquita, which then did business as United Brands, transferred shipping operations from New Orleans to the Port of Gulfport after importing bananas and other fruit for more than 70 years in New Orleans.
Chiquita is forecast to ship 60,000-78,000 20-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) a year at the New Orleans port. The volume represents a 15% increase in the port’s current container volume. Chiquita plans to handle 30,000-39,000 TEUs of bananas and other fresh fruit at the port as well as export those same volumes of other outbound cargos.
Louisiana was in talks with Chiquita for a decade and to help reduce the port’s increased shipping and handling costs. The state of Louisiana plans to provide the banana giant $1.11 million-$1.45 million or $18.55 per TEU in yearly performance-based incentives.
The port is planning to invest $2.2 million in improvements at a port-owned distribution and ripening facility to be leased to Chiquita As part of the deal, the port also intends to fund $2 million in refrigerated-container electrical infrastructure improvements and rehabilitate a container freight warehouse, according to the release.