Chiquita Brands will continue to use the Port of Wilmington as its mid-Atlantic distribution hub for the next five years.
The agreement also includes two 5-year lease renewal options, which would extend the fruit purveyor’s relationship with Wilmington through 2029.
“We are extremely pleased that Chiquita has decided to sign a new lease with the port and continue our long and ‘fruitful’ relationship,” said Gene Bailey, executive director of the Diamond State Port Corporation, which owns and operates the port. “Chiquita is a most important customer and responsible for hundreds of jobs.”
Bailey said the port’s new cranes and other investments made to keep the port’s infrastructure current and operational are what allowed the state to hold onto Chiquita’s business.
“We are grateful to the governor and the General Assembly for the support which has allowed us to make those capital equipment acquisitions and infrastructure improvements needed to retain Chiquita’s business despite a very competitive environment,” Bailey said.
The state committed $31 million to the facility over the next five years. On a statewide basis, Bailey said, the port generates $35 to $38 million in tax revenue.
Chiquita leases 28.7 acres at the Wilmington seaport which is its largest port operation in North America. The company’s ships travel between Central America and Wilmington carrying bananas, pineapples and other tropical fruit and vegetables. Its vessels also carry general cargo.
“We are pleased that we have reached an agreement that will enable us to continue to call Wilmington home for many years to come,” said Mario Pacheco, Chiquita’s senior vice president of Global Logistics.
With the retention of Chiquita’s business, the Port of Wilmington continues to handle more bananas than any other port in North America.