(Aug. 26, 5:00 p.m.) Bananas accounted for more than half of Chiquita’s net sales in the second quarter, but the Cincinnati-based company is working to diversify both its product line and where its products are sold, part of the company’s initiative to extend its brand.

Ed Loyd, manager of investor relations and corporate communications for Chiquita Brands International Inc., said Aug. 26 that the company’s goal is for at least 5% of its revenue to come from new, high-margin products.

Loyd wouldn’t say how close the company is to meeting that goal, but Chiquita continues to roll out new products as well as new uses for its bananas.

He said sales of Chiquita to Go, the company’s individual bananas sold at convenience stores, coffee houses and other nontraditional locations, are up 17% compared to a year ago.

Chairman and chief executive officer Fernando Aguirre pointed out July 31 during the company’s second quarter earnings report that while a consumer might pay 25 cents for a banana in a traditional grocery store, they’re willing to pay at least three times that price in a coffee shop.

“Both the coffee retailer as well as Chiquita makes the better margin out of that product,” he said, “and that’s why we’re interested in expanding.”

One of the coffee houses offering Chiquita to Go is Starbucks, which also has added Chiquita bananas to two of its new drinks. The chain introduced Vivanno banana-chocolate and orange-mango-banana blended drinks — both include whole bananas — in July.

Meanwhile, the company has rolled out its smoothie line — Just Fruit in a Bottle — in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden. The company also has introduced Chiquita-branded fruit cups to McDonald’s locations in The Netherlands.

In the U.S., Chiquita is one of the suppliers for the Fresh Apple Fries product that Miami-based Burger King rolled out nationwide July 7.

Loyd said Chiquita worked “for several years” to develop the cut-apple product with Burger King. He said the company also is supplying sliced apples to more than 15,000 Subway locations.

“We are also continuing to permanently invest in long-term opportunities that will extend and grow the Chiquita brand and help expand the company’s market position in the higher-margin categories,” Aguirre said. “Our goal remains the same — to make innovative products more convenient and available to customers and consumers.”

International growth

In other news, Chiquita announced Aug. 26 that it plans to enter the value-added produce market in China through a joint venture with Haitong Food Group Co. Ltd. Chiquita said in a news release that it will provide capital investment and have majority ownership of Zhejiang Chiquita-Haitong Food Co. Ltd., Cixi, China.

That joint venture company will market and sell value-added produce, including packaged salads, fresh-cut produce and beverages, in China. Regulatory approval is expected during the fourth quarter, Chiquita said.

Chiquita focusing on brand extension
Chiquita has plans for at least 5% of its revenue to come from new, high-margin products, says Ed Loyd, manager of investor relations and corporate communications.