Chiquita Leads Restoration Efforts in Central America Following Recent Hurricanes
Recent Hurricanes Eta and Iota have caused extensive damage throughout Central America, particularly in Honduras and Guatemala, including destroyed roads, schools, homes, bridges, dikes and other infrastructure. Many families have been displaced and are now facing difficult living conditions, creating a dire humanitarian crisis. Chiquita’s farming operations and communities have also been deeply affected, even more than originally estimated, which has resulted in limited banana production for the foreseeable future. Now, Chiquita is investing significant time and funds to help rebuild the affected areas.
Chiquita’s Hurricane Relief Efforts
Immediately after the first hurricane hit, Chiquita jumped into action to begin spearheading restoration efforts. The company has been working with key relief and healthcare organizations, plus respective governmental institutions to organize material donations, funds and logistical transportation. To date, Chiquita has spearheaded the donation of more than 90 tons of various forms of relief aid to those in need.
Beyond supplying shipments of bananas to distribute within the impacted communities, Chiquita has also offered the company’s vessels and container fleet to organizations who can help provide critical supplies to the Honduran and Guatemalan governments. In addition, Chiquita has been coordinating medical support through health service fairs, medical dispensaries at farms and a company-sponsored health clinic located in La Lima, Honduras. More than 600 Honduran people have received medical care from one of Chiquita’s medical providers.
As a continued effort to reduce the hunger of locals who have been affected and displaced by the catastrophic hurricanes, Chiquita is also providing hundreds of bags of fresh food and meals to communities in Honduras and Guatemala. To date the company has donated more than 4,000 bags of water and nourishment to families in need.
Impact on Banana Production & Pricing
The banana supply chain has been affected for all producers in the region; therefore, the US market is currently and will continue to experience shortages. To be able to continue delivering on Chiquita’s commitments to serve customers and to alleviate the burden on the supply chain, the company has shifted gears to source from alternative countries, requiring an adaptation of shipping rotations, logistics operations and inland transportation. As the industry continues to rebalance, the global market is impacted as well, as supply is diverted to the US market to cover for the shortages of Honduras and Guatemala.
At present, and for the foreseeable future, supply is tight and therefore fruit prices are reacting to the reduced production from Central America. As a result, Chiquita has unfortunately had to implement a surcharge to cover for the incremental cost to serve obligations in the US market. This new surcharge will equate to a relatively small increase to the banana retail price.
Looking Ahead to the Future
The banana industry is vital to communities in Honduras and Guatemala, which merits and demands a sustainable and fair structure to support the livelihoods that depend on it. The rehabilitation of Chiquita’s farms and the surrounding communities will require a heavy investment of funds and time. Until damages have been restored, Chiquita will continue its commitment to rebuilding with every intention to resume production and continue employment opportunities in Central America.