Chiquita expanding in Africa

by Josh Sosland
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CINCINNATI — Chiquita Brands International has agreed to long-term strategic agreements for the export of bananas to the European Union from Angola and Mozambique.

In Angola, Chiquita has reached an agreement in principle with ESCOM, part of Group Espirito Santo. The pact marks Chiquita’s entry into the Angola market and ESCOM’s entry into the agricultural sector. The deal is contingent upon government approvals and will include the investment of more than $60 million by an ESCOM subsidiary, the Agricultural Development Company of Angola. The subsidiary will partner with Hipergesta, an Angolan company, to establish banana production in the province of Benguela on the West coast of the country.

Chiquita said its arrangement in Mozambique was reached earlier with Matanuska Africa Ltd. and that the project already is under way.

While Chiquita will not be providing capital for either project it said it will support the initiatives with expertise in farm development, agricultural practices, worker training, logistics, marketing and distribution.

"Both operations have committed themselves to meeting Chiquita’s high standards of environmental, labor, social and food safety performance," Chiquita said.

Chiquita said the projects, which are expected to begin exporting to Europe by 2010, will provide 20% to 30% of the fruit the company ships to Europe each year. The fruit will be cost competitive in Europe "even if there are future significant reductions in the import tariff rate applied on Latin American bananas imported into the European Union."

ESCOM is one of the largest private foreign investors in Angola, with operations in mining, real estate, energy, aviation, fishery and procurement.

Matanuska Africa is a partnership of Matanuska Mauritius and Rift Valley Holdings and has been growing bananas in the region for more than 40 years. The company also has experience in organic fair trade tea, coffee, coconut and sustainable forestry.

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