Chiquita Brands International Inc. has announced the company will relocate its shipping operations from the Port of Gulfport in Mississippi to the Port of New Orleans in Louisiana.
Chiquita’s shipping operations will return to New Orleans after a nearly 40-year hiatus. The company, known as United Brands in the 1970s, relocated its shipping operations from the Port of New Orleans to the Port of Gulfport in the mid-1970s after more than seven decades of calling at the Port of New Orleans. An LSU economic impact study suggests the project will result in approximately 270 to 350 new permanent jobs in New Orleans as well as an increase in total economic output of $373 million to $485 million over the next 10 years.
At the announcement, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said, “This is a huge, historic win for the Port of New Orleans and for trade in our state. We are excited to welcome back Chiquita after a nearly 40-year hiatus.”
“We at Chiquita are thrilled to return to the port and the great city of New Orleans as we implement a new shipping configuration,” said Pacheco, who supervises the company’s global logistics. “We are particularly excited about the enhanced service levels to our Chiquita and Great White Fleet customers that will result from this change in our shipping operations and expanded vessel capacity. We have valued our partnership with the Port of Gulfport and thank them for many years of great service. This was a clear business decision for us surrounding our new shipping configuration rather than any dissatisfaction with the strong and economically competitive team we have had at Gulfport.”
The project will strengthen both the state’s and the New Orleans port’s ties to Central America. It will result in improved ocean transportation to those countries, and it helps further establish New Orleans as one of the premier ports for handling temperature-sensitive cargo. Additionally, the new ocean service will benefit shippers looking to export more cargo to Central America. Company shipments in New Orleans are expected to begin by the first quarter of 2015.
“This is truly a great day for our state, and the Louisiana Board of International Commerce is proud to welcome Chiquita back to our community,” said Chairman Greg Rusovich of the Louisiana Board of International Commerce. “Louisiana is laser-focused on being the U.S. leader in global trade and job creation. Our region and state have the hot hand, and this announcement is a further testament to the strong partnership emerging between this world-class company and our economic and global trade leaders.”
To secure the project, the State of Louisiana will provide Chiquita a performance-based incentive of $18.55 per TEU (total value of $1.11 million to 1.45 million annually) to offset increased shipping and handling costs at the Port of New Orleans, and will invest $2.2 million in a port-owned distribution/ripening facility to be leased to Chiquita. The Port of New Orleans will invest $2.0 million for refrigerated-container electrical infrastructure and rehabilitation of a container freight warehouse to accommodate the project.