PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala, Sept. 11, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (NYSE:CQB) today celebrated the inauguration of the expanded and renovated port facilities at Terminal Ferroviaria de Puerto Barrios, Guatemala in a ceremony with Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina. The total project cost of more than $30 million, was provided by Chiquita and the Government of Guatemala.
"For more than 100 years Puerto Barrios has been a strategic point of embarkation and entry for Chiquita and Guatemala," said Ed Lonergan, Chiquita's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are very grateful to the people of Guatemala and delighted to join with President Otto Pérez Molina whose participation has made this expansion possible. We are particularly excited about the enhanced levels of service to our Chiquita and Great White Fleet customers that will result from this investment in expanded capacity, and the economic opportunities that this will generate for the local community."
Chiquita, through its Guatemalan subsidiary COBIGUA, is the largest exporter of Guatemalan bananas and plantains and one of the main customers of Puerto Barrios. With more than 225 container vessel calls annually, the Company imports and exports more than 125,000 containers of fresh fruit, refrigerated and dry cargo, and other goods.
The Puerto Barrios team has also been recognized by Chiquita as a leader in employee workplace safety. In August 2014, employees celebrated their fifth one million work hours without a loss time incident or 1,767 days over the past five years without an employee injury. Added Lonergan, "Sustainability and safety commitments such as this are embedded in Chiquita's Purpose and Core Values. Puerto Barrios is an elite Chiquita team and demonstrates our commitment to safeguard the health and safety of our employees. Our target is zero occupational health and safety incidents in our operations and we congratulate Puerto Barrios on their achievement."
The Puerto Barrios expansion and renovation is part of Chiquita's previously announced reconfiguration of shipping rotations. Chiquita's current U.S.-Gulf shipping rotation will be replaced with larger, more efficient vessels allowing for some costs and stowage capacity to be shared with a third-party shipping partner, resulting in lower per unit shipping costs for both.
Representing Chiquita at the event, Manuel Rodriguez, Executive Vice President Government & International Affairs and Corporate Responsibility Officer, noted that, "We are honored and proud to contribute to the continued development of Guatemala. Our Company is committed to the well-being of Guatemala and its people and this motivates our corporate social responsibility work to protect the environment, respect the rights of labor and develop initiatives to improve lives in all the communities in which we operate."
Rodriguez pointed to the containers of donated medical equipment brought through Puerto Barrios by Chiquita in partnership with the Heineman Foundation of Charlotte and the International Medical Outreach Program (IMO) of the Carolinas HealthCare System as a prime example of Chiquita's corporate responsibility commitment. The donated medical equipment has been provided to several underserved Guatemalan hospitals through SOSEP (Secretaria de Obras Sociales de la Esposa del Presidente), the charitable foundation of the Office of the First Lady of Guatemala.
ABOUT CHIQUITA BRANDS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Chiquita Brands (NYSE:CQB) is a leading international marketer and distributor of nutritious, high-quality fresh and value-added food products - from energy-rich bananas, blends of convenient green salads, other fruits to healthy snacking products. The company markets its healthy, fresh products under the Chiquita® and Fresh Express® premium brands and other related trademarks. With annual revenues of more than $3 billion, Chiquita employs approximately 20,000 people and has operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit http://www.chiquita.com/.
Source:Chiquita Brands International, Inc.