Chiquita sustains $11 million loss in quarter

by Staff
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CINCINNATI — Lower banana prices led to a loss at Chiquita Brands, Inc. during the first quarter. For the quarter ended March 31, the company suffered a loss of $11 million, which compared with net income of $24 million during the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $793 million, down 4% from $824 million during the same quarter of the previous year.

“Our first-quarter results were impacted by near-term challenges in our business," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. “In bananas, lower prices in each of our markets impacted both our revenues and comparable income for the quarter. Our North American banana business remains stable. In Europe, tight banana supply, particularly from Ecuador, helped improve local pricing sequentially during the quarter; however, this was not enough to overcome the impact of higher fuel costs and lower European exchange rates. The constrained supply availability also hampered expected sales volumes.”

Comparable operating income for the bananas segment was $25 million, down 56% from $56 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were $520 million, down 3% from $539 million.

The salads and healthy snacks segment had comparable operating income of $2 million, down 63% from $6 million during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the segment were $238 million, unchanged from the same quarter of the previous year.

“We are making progress on our strategic initiatives to take advantage of long-term growth opportunities, but these initiatives will take time to show in our results,” Mr. Aguirre said. ‘In salads, we have adapted our structure and strategy to be more successful and profitable. We realized significant quality improvements and improved efficiencies to increase the pace of product innovation on our branded salads.

Our purpose is to improve shareholder value. Given the inherent complexity of managing a global business from farm to shelf, we are focusing on leveraging our most important strength, our brand. That enables us to outsource those elements of our business that are asset intensive to focus on our unique competitive advantages.”

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