Jackson, Miss. (July 6, 2016) – Gov. Phil Bryant and officials from banana giant Chiquita Brands International announce the company is returning its shipping operations to the Port of Gulfport in Gulfport, Miss.
“Chiquita’s return demonstrates the ‘Port of the Future,’ or the Port of Gulfport, is the right fit for companies with international shipping needs,” Gov. Bryant said. “It also reinforces the fact Mississippi has a business environment that helps companies maintain their competitive edge in today’s demanding economy.”
Chiquita will employ 10 management and operations personnel, while providing local longshoremen additional hours lost when, after 40 years in Gulfport, the company relocated its shipping operations to New Orleans in 2014. The company maintained ripening operations at John Fayard Warehousing in Gulfport, with Chiquita’s containers visiting the Port of Gulfport on a regular basis for shipments.
“We are pleased to return our port operations to Gulfport where our Chiquita ripening and distribution facilities are located,” Andrew Biles, Chiquita’s president and CEO, said. “We believe that Gulfport is optimally situated to service our customers most efficiently with both north and southbound vessel services.”
Chiquita’s new lease with the Port of Gulfport is for an initial term of 40 years, through 2056. The company will return to its previous location in the North Harbor. Chiquita also will expand into Terminal 1, encompassing a total of 32 acres – more than double what the company previously occupied. Chiquita will operate in a new maintenance and repair building, which was designed and planned prior to its departure. The company also will have 110,000 square feet of warehouse space in the new West Pier Transit Shed, increasing its dry-storage capacity and adding 20,000 square feet of temperature-controlled space.
“The return of Chiquita is a testament to the improvements made through the Port of Gulfport Restoration Program, to the extraordinary teamwork exhibited daily by the leadership at the port and also to the outstanding workforce in Mississippi,” said Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough, Jr. “The success of Chiquita and the other tenants utilizing the Port of Gulfport is very important to Mississippi as we continue to grow our economy and create new opportunities for Mississippians throughout the state.”
The Port of Gulfport is expected to begin receiving Chiquita containers by mid-July, with the first vessel scheduled to arrive in August.