Banana cultivation requires a specific climate, therefore the fruit cannot be grown just anywhere. Chiquita bananas sold in Italy are imported from the Tropics, where most of the multinational's plantations are located.
"We are fully committed towards sustainability. We feel responsible towards our suppliers, clients, partners, community and the environment. We also set up and support projects for the communities where we operate such as investments in schools and we ensure support and access to education for our employees' children. We also promote social empowerment, supply help in case of disasters and work with NGOs on charity projects. What is more, we support long-term projects to safeguard the environment and nature," explains Chiquita Italia sales manager Costabile Romano.
"Bananas are the most popular fruit in the world and Chiquita is among the most popular brands. It has always been a favourite in Italy thanks to its superior quality and unmistakable flavour."
The banana segment has done rather well in Italy in 2017, also thanks to the increased interest in healthy, fresh, genuine food. Chiquita continues to be recognised as a lively dynamic brand and is associated with a great know-how when it comes to fruit cultivation. "Nowadays, consumers are mainly concerned with a healthy lifestyle and diet, so the fruit and vegetable segment is destined to grow."
Sustainability is another important element for all brands. Chiquita's high quality is supported by the famous blue sticker, which also represents the company's commitment to sustainability.
"We want our iconic Blue Sticker to be synonymous with high-quality, delicious and - most of all - sustainable bananas. This is why we support innovation in the management and logistics of plantations, promoting safety, training, fair retribution and equal rights for all employees. We also undertake to transport bananas reducing CO2 emissions and water footprint."
To transport its bananas, Chiquita uses a strategic partner, Great White Fleet (GWF). Its name derives from the fact ships used to be painted white to reflect sunlight and therefore protect bananas during long-distance transfers. Nowadays, Chiquita is the leading banana distributor in the world and, thanks to the GWF dedicated fleet, it can guarantee the most flexible shipment network in the industry. On its part, GWF is continuing to invest in new containers to guarantee an even more efficient network especially in Italy, where the goods arrive in Vado Ligure, Civitavecchia e Salerno.
"Refrigerated containers are key components within the banana supply chain but, at the same time, reducing energy consumption is among the most important methods to improve sustainability. In order to combine these two aspects, we replaced 65% of the fleet between 2009 and 2017. It was a sizeable project, considering that Chiquita manages over 15,000 containers. The new containers are equipped with greenhouse-effect coolers and their insulating materials have a reduce environmental impact."
According to the sales manager, packaging also plays an important role.
"We used sturdy packaging designed to improve the freshness of bananas and to be stable when handled on pallets. According to the tests carried out by the company's ripening facility, they enable the uniform ripening temperatures, uniform colour and an improved ABC rating with energy savings up to 20%."
Diseases such as strain TR4...
Bananas are one of the most important food crops in the world. They are the basic foods for millions of people. Tropical Race 4 (TR4) is a disease that has had terrible effect on banana plantations all over the world: South East Asia, Australia, Jordan and Africa. The most susceptible variety is Cavendish, which is the most popular in Europe and North America.
"TR4 is a problem not only for our Chiquita bananas and those of our suppliers and competitors, but also for those family business that rely on their plantations."
TR4's biology and genetics have yet to be understood. Infected spores can remain dormant for decades and be transported by equipment, clothes and shoes, animals, people, irrigation water. At the moment, unfortunately, there is no effective treatment or cure. The only measure that can be taken is preventing the transfer of soil or vegetable material.
"Chiquita recognises the role and responsibility of the sector and all stakeholders to find a contingency plan and a programme focused on preventing an epidemic and managing existing cases better. The objective is to strengthen the collaboration and coordination of the entire sector involving institutions, researchers, governments and producers to find a permanent solution to TR4. Working together ans sharing experiences and solution is the only way to guarantee the sustainability of the sector."