FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2008
CHIQUITA SIGNS A LONG-TERM LEASE WITH PORT OF GULFPORT
GULFPORT, MS - Chiquita Fresh North America (Chiquita) and the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport have put the finishing touches on a new lease that will extend the partnership of the two organizations through the year 2019.
The Mississippi State Port Authority is in the midst of a $570 million recovery project. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and senior executives from Chiquita will participate in a signing ceremony today at the Port to commemorate the new lease contract.
“Since the early days after Hurricane Katrina our outstanding partners at Chiquita said they would continue to be an important part of economic development in Mississippi. Today that promise has become a reality,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “It’s fitting that Chiquita will become the first corporate tenant under the Port of Gulfport’s new master plan, which is a visionary plan that will help the Port achieve its full potential.”
Senator Wicker said, “This agreement represents a strong, long-term partnership between Mississippi and Chiquita that will provide good jobs and a tremendous economic boost for the entire state as we continue to recover from Hurricane Katrina. It also helps solidify the Port of Gulfport’s position in an impressive product supply chain that delivers fresh, healthy fruit to consumers in North America.”
“For four decades, Chiquita has played a dynamic role in the success and growth of the Port of Gulfport,” said Jim Simpson, president of the Port’s Board of Commissioners.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chiquita Brands International has operations on six continents and its products are known the world over. “We’re excited about the expansion plan developed by the Port,” said Waheed Zaman, senior vice president of global product supply at Chiquita. “The state-of-the-art facility at Gulfport will handle more than 750 in-and-out containers for Chiquita per week. Our business relationship with the Port will help Chiquita achieve our growth plans for the future,” said Mr. Zaman.
“Chiquita currently occupies nearly 25 acres at the Port of Gulfport,” said Port director Don Allee. “Chiquita is responsible for 52 ship calls per year at the Port of Gulfport and that type of commitment has helped the Port become the third busiest container port in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico,” added Mr. Allee.
In a recent economic impact study by John A. Martin and Associates, it was noted that the weekly service by Chiquita contributes greatly to the over 2,000 direct maritime jobs, and generates over $13 million in state and local taxes.
Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Chiquita was able to resume its Gulfport service within 30 days. This tremendous feat was achieved in spite of the fact that Chiquita’s facility was completely destroyed. “I think this speaks volumes for Chiquita and its commitment to the Port of Gulfport and the State of Mississippi,” added Mr. Simpson.
“The long-term lease at Gulfport demonstrates that Chiquita takes seriously the promise we made after Katrina,” said Mr. Zaman. “Three years ago we pledged to make a positive impact on economic growth in the region, and the new lease agreement will help make that happen for years to come.”
About Mississippi State Port Authority
The Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport is an enterprise agency of the State of Mississippi and is governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners. The Mississippi State Port was founded in 1902.
About Chiquita Brands International
With annual revenues of approximately $4 billion from continuing operations, Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (NYSE: CQB) is a leading international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh and value-added food products - from energy-rich bananas and other fruits to nutritious blends of convenient green salads. The company markets its products under the Chiquita® and Fresh Express® premium brands and other related trademarks. Chiquita employs approximately 23,000 people operating in more than 70 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit www.chiquita.com.