Chiquita Brands narrows loss in year

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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CINCINNATI — As a result of cost challenges, Chiquita Brands International, Inc. posted a loss of $49 million in the year ended Dec. 31, which compared with a loss of $95.5 million during 2006. Sales during the year were $4,662,800,000, up 4% from $4,499,100,000 during the previous year.

"Our results reflect the proactive steps we took throughout the year to position us to transform and grow our business," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "We have continued to focus on pricing in bananas and recovery in value-added salads to help offset persistent external cost challenges."

Operating income in the bananas segment was $114.7 million, up 82% from $63 million during the previous year. Sales in the bananas segment were $2,011.9 million, up 4% from $1,933.8 million during 2006.

The Salads and Healthy Snacks segment posted an operating income of $30.9 million, down 3% from $31.7 million in the previous year. Net sales for the segment were $1,259.8 million, up 6% from $1,194.3 million during the previous year.

The Other Produce segment posted a loss of $27.4 million during the year compared with a loss of $32.4 million during 2006. Sales for the Other Produce segment were $1,391.1 million, up 2% compared with $1,371 million during 2006.

"In 2008, we will be focused on maintaining our premium brands, improving North American profitability and completing the restructuring we implemented in October," Mr. Aguirre said. "We also will invest in the development of new value-added products to extend our brands, expand consumption and drive growth in higher-margin distribution channels and profitable geographies. We believe that these strategies will help us to achieve our vision of becoming the global leader in healthy, fresh and convenient foods."

For the fourth quarter, Chiquita posted a net loss of $26 million, which compared with a loss of $41.5 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $1,153.9 million, up 6% from $1,084.8 million during the same quarter of 2006.

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