Chiquita Brands International is a leading international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh food products - from bananas and other fruits to nutritious blends of convenient green salads. The company's products and services are designed to win the hearts and smiles of the world's consumers by helping them enjoy healthy fresh foods. The company markets its products under the Chiquita and Fresh Express premium brands and other related trademarks.
The company is the second-largest distributor of bananas in North America behind Dole. The average American eats 27 pounds of bananas per year according to the company.
The company's main banana growing countries are Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala and the Philippines.
In addition to bananas, Chiquita offers grapes, kiwi, cherries, apples, pears, pineapples and avocados. The company also sells pre-washed salads in supermarkets under the name Fresh Express.
In 2009, Chiquita reported revenues of $3.47 billion, a 4% decrease. Bananas made up $2.1 billion in revenue. Salads and healthy snacks generated sales of $1.1 billion. Net income for the year was $90 million.
"We doubled our profitability in 2009 despite the difficult recessionary environment by focusing on cost control, pricing discipline and relentlessly executing our initiatives," said Fernando Aguirre, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We are very pleased with the dramatic turnaround in salads. The sustained profitability of our North America banana business and structural improvements in our salads business helped diversify our company in both revenue and profitability, while reducing volatility."
1870 Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker purchased 160 bunches of bananas in Jamaica and sailed them to Jersey City in 11 days, where he sold them for a profit.
1871 Minor C. Keith went to Costa Rica and contracted to build a national railroad. Since he needed cargo and passengers for the railroad, he planted bananas alongside the tracks to provide paying fares both inland and back to the sea.
1885 Captain Baker started a partnership with Andrew Preston and some investors and called it Boston Fruit Company.
1899 Keith and his railroad companies merged with the Boston Fruit Company to create the United Fruit Company on March 30, 1899.
1903 Company listed on New York Stock Exchange.
In 1944, the company introduced Miss Chiquita and became the first company to brand a banana. In the early years, the company experimented with putting its name and Miss Chiquita on a paper band and wrapping it around hands of bananas. The idea of sticking labels on bananas came in 1963. Today, more than 40 years later, each sticker is still carefully placed on by hand. Machines are just too rough and can bruise the delicate fruit.
The Chiquita sticker has become an iconic symbol for high quality fruit and produce. The stickers have been used to promote bananas for school lunches, celebrate major anniversaries and Miss Chiquita's 50th birthday. One of the newest labels is Chiquita Jr., placed on smaller size bananas, perfect for lunch boxes and snacks.
Updated February 23, 2010