Web Editor’s note: This is a significantly extended version of a story running as a brief under the “In the News” section in The Packer’s Oct. 1 print and digital editions.

(Oct. 1) Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. now has the exclusive right to package avocados using Landec Corp.’s patented BreatheWay packaging technology, after Apio Inc., Landec’s food subsidiary, recently expanded its joint technology licensing and supply agreement.

The expanded agreement also grants Chiquita the sole ability to use Menlo Park, Calif.-based Landec’s modified-atmosphere membrane for additional banana packaging configurations that were not included in the initial agreement, which was established in 2004, said Cali Tanguay, a business developer for Apio.

The restructured contract will allow for growth and increased market opportunities for both companies, said Gary Steele — Landec’s chairman and chief executive officer — in a Web cast, and the avocado program is expected to launch worldwide in 2008, Tanguay said.

Mike Mitchell, director of corporate communications for Chiquita, agreed that packaging its avocados using Landec’s BreatheWay application should enable Chiquita to develop and satisfy its customer base.

“We believe the Landec technology will allow us to expand distribution, as we will be able to deliver a longer shelf life, meeting customer and consumer needs for ripe-and-ready avocados,” Mitchell said.

Avocados are the second item Chiquita and Landec have collaborated to ship, after Chiquita began distributing bananas in Landec’s polymer membrane to convenience stores in February 2006 and retailers — for testing — in November 2006.

Since the BreatheWay technology proved successful in extending the banana’s shelf life, and because bananas and avocados have similar characteristics and shipping problems, Landec believes its polymer will have the same effect on avocados, Tanguay said.

To keep the exclusive license, Chiquita must meet new increased minimum purchase thresholds of BreatheWay packages beginning in Landec's current fiscal year, Tanguay said.

Under the agreement, Landec will provide Chiquita with ongoing research and development and support throughout the supply chain in order to assist in the development and acceptance of the technology, Tanguay said.