SuperTalk Mississippi

Chaquita Banana Here to Say, Still No Decision on Whether to Stay

GULFPORT, Miss.–Chiquita is still in the process of deciding whether or not to stay at the Port of Gulfport and now the people whose lives will be affected by that decision are urging the powers that be to come clean.

Chiquita has been a mainstay at the Port for about 40 years, and as improvements continue there, the company has said it is evaluating whether or not the port can continue to serve the Great White Fleet Liner Services, which moves Chaquita fruits.

In a document dated April 26, obtained by News Mississippi, the company said it is upgrading its fleet and will have many larger vessels. It is modernizing its own hub in Puerto Barrios to accommodate the new vessels.

“As part of the investment in updating logistics infrastructure, we are also evaluating Gulfport, MS and other nearby ports for efficiency and effectiveness in serving the Gulf Coast,” reads the letter. “If we are required to change our port call, we can assure you that any changes will be required to enhance our service, efficiency and value to our customers. We are not contemplating altering other port calls…at this time.”

The letter is signed Mario Pacheco, vice president of Chaquita.

Another document sent to News Mississippi is from an anonymous party, but stresses that the people employed at the Port of Gulfport, in particular with connections to the Chaquita operation, are concerned with rumors the company plans to relocate to New Orleans.

There has been no official word either way at this point.

“Our opinion is that the silence speaks volumes as to what is about to happen.  As concerned citizens, union members and vendors we are asking for answers,” reads the letter.

Port Director Jonathan Daniels told media last month that he should know by May 15 whether Chiquita will renew its lease, which expires in July. Chaquita supplies about one third of the labor hours put in at the port, said one union leader.

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