(Sept. 26, 1:18 p.m.) Chiquita has extended its lease with the Port of Wilmington through 2019, solidifying the Delaware port’s status as the world’s largest banana port and the nation’s largest port for fresh fruit.

“It’s a tremendous vote of confidence that Chiquita has placed with the Port of Wilmington, recognizing our value as a business partner,” said Tom Keefer, deputy executive director of the port. “We’ve proven over the past 20 years that we’re very capable of helping their business growth and expansion in North America.”

Chiquita Brands International Inc. agreed to an 11-year lease on 27.6 acres Sept. 23.

The Cincinnati-based company moved its East Coast banana service to the port from Newark, N.J., in 1988, Keefer said. The company moved its palletized service to the port from Albany, N.Y., a year later and made the port its distribution center for Chilean imports in the 1990s.

Chiquita is the port’s second-largest customer by tonnage behind Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co. Chiquita moved more than 45,000 shipping containers through the port last year.

A recent economic analysis conducted for the port credited Chiquita with creating 400 jobs, $21 million in annual business revenue and more than $1.5 million in regional taxes. During the course of the 11-year lease the company’s economic impact is expected to be more than $230 million in revenue and $16.5 million in taxes.

A Chiquita spokesman could not be reached for comment. In a news release, Deverl Maserang, Chiquita’s vice president of North America product supply and logistics, said that from Wilmington the company can quickly distribute products north to Canada, as far south as North Carolina and west to the Mississippi.

Chiquita plans to stay at Port of Wilmington
Chiquita Brands International Inc., Cincinnati, has agreed to an 11-year lease at the Port of Wilmington. The company is the port's second-largest customer by tonnage behind Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co.

Courtesy Port of Wilmington