Chiquita Top Banana in Rainforest Alliance Project

Chiquita Top Banana in Rainforest Alliance Project

Chiquita, the world's top banana producer, which grows about one-quarter of all bananas sold, announced its participation this week in the Better Banana Project, an environmental certification program requiring companies to rein in the use of toxic chemicals, reduce pollution, and conserve soil and water.

Chiquita said that it has spent $20 million over the last eight years to comply with the
Rainforest Alliance project's guidelines, but that meeting them will actually help profits as reducing the use of chemicals will cut costs.

The company said that all 127 of its farms in Latin America are now certified, and its smaller operations in Africa and Asia will meet the program guidelines soon. Chiquita said BBP-certified bananas make up more than 90% of the company's sales volume to Europe, and approximately two-thirds of the volume to North America.

According to Bob Kistinger, president and chief operating officer of the Chiquita Fresh Group, the Better Banana Project is a "smart mix" of improved business practices, better social standards, and real environmental benefits:

"We also like that its standards become more stringent as new technology becomes available, so we can strive for improvements in our performance each and every year," Kistinger said.

Nonprofit Rainforest Alliance laud's Chiquita's move:

"We commend Chiquita for their vision in choosing to participate in our Better Banana Project," said Tensie Whelan, the group's executive director. "Through their extraordinary efforts, the company has demonstrated their commitment to environmental and social responsibility, leading the way for the rest of the industry."

The Rainforest Alliance, the leading certifier of agriculture and timber products, began the Better Banana Project in 1991 in an effort to transform business and land use practices as well as consumer behavior. Together with a network of conservation organizations in Latin America, it develops and certifies the use of best practices that protect water quality, worker health and safety, wildlife habitat, and rainforests.

Chiquita is the only global banana company to have undertaken and met the strict, voluntary environmental and social standards of the Rainforest Alliance's Better Banana Project. Certification is based ecosystem conservation; wildlife conservation; worker treatment; community relations; minimal, strictly managed use of agrichemicals; integrated waste management; water and soil conservation; and environmental planning and monitoring.

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