Chiquita Earns CSR Certification for Farming Operations in Three Countries

Chiquita Earns CSR Certification for Farming Operations in Three Countries

Chiquita Brands International recently announced that independent auditors have certified its banana farms in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama to the Social Accountability 8000(1) labor and human rights standard and the EUREPGAP(2) food safety standard. Chiquita's operations are the first to earn SA8000 certification in each of these countries.

The SA8000 certifications earned to date cover operations that employ more than 12,000 people, more than half of Chiquita's total employees. The EUREPGAP certifications cover approximately 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres), or about two-thirds of the company's owned banana farm operations.

Chiquita adopted SA8000 as the labor standard in its Code of Conduct in 2000 and is working toward compliance and third-party certification to SA8000 in all of its owned banana divisions. In 2002, Chiquita's banana division in Costa Rica became the first major agricultural operation in Central America to earn SA8000 certification.

"Our SA8000 and EUREPGAP certifications reflect this company's tremendous efforts and commitment to attain high ethical, social and environmental standards based on the principles of transparency and independent verification," said Fernando Aguirre, president and CEO.

Independent auditing organizations -- Bureau Veritas Quality International, European Food Safety Inspection Service and Intertek Testing Services -- completed inspections of Chiquita's banana production, harvesting and packaging operations in December 2003, and the company received its certificates early this year. The company has committed to achieve EUREPGAP certification in 2004 and SA8000 certification in 2005 at its owned operations in Guatemala and Honduras.

Comprehensive and verified assessments of Chiquita's environmental, social and financial performance are available publicly in its corporate responsibility reports. In addition to measuring performance at its Latin American banana divisions, Chiquita's third report, "Sustaining Progress," extended the scope of the company's reporting along its supply chain, including for the first time Chiquita Global Logistics, which includes its ocean shipping operations known as the Great White Fleet.

According to the company's 2003 corporate responsibility report, 100% of Chiquita's company-owned farms certified to the strict environmental standards of the Rainforest Alliance. In addition, the volume of purchased bananas from Rainforest Alliance-certified farms increased to more than 65% in 2003 from 33% in 2001.

Chiquita has also pledged to phase out by 2007 all refrigerated containers using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are known to contribute to the depletion of the Earth's ozone layer

"We take very seriously our responsibility to minimize environmental impacts," said Jeffrey Brown, senior vice president of Chiquita's Global Supply Chain Operations. "Transporting perishable products requires the use of refrigerants in ships, containers and cold storage facilities. This necessitates that we focus on the limited use of only environmentally friendly refrigerants, which will remain at the top of our environmental priorities."