(UPDATED COVERAGE, 1:05 p.m.) An agreement between Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Organics Unlimited will expand organic banana offerings in the U.S. with fruit from Mexico and Ecuador.
San Diego-based Organics Unlimited will market bananas under the Chiquita label while continuing to market organic bananas under its own labels, which include Organics Unlimited, GROW and Fair Trade, president Mayra Velazquez de Leon said.
“This shows small companies and huge companies can work together,” she said. “And it shows that we have quality product and customer service and logistics in place to meet their needs.”
Velazquez de Leon said her company, founded in 2000, has added almost 125 acres in Mexico as well as more acres in Ecuador. She said the growth is not a result of the Chiquita deal, but part of a multi-year plan to manage the growth of Organics Unlimited.
She said she began working with Chiquita in November and has been selling the Charlotte, N.C.-based conpamy five containers of organic bananas a week since then. The agreement announced April 25 calls for that five containers per week volume to continue for the next 18 months, at least.
“We plan to keep growing and hope to increase our sales to them,” the Organics Unlimited president said.
The deal will translate into a U.S. distribution volume increase of about 10% for Organics Unlimited, she said.
The new partnership includes training in Mexico and Guatemala to synchronize the systems of each company for the organic banana program. Chiquita will continue to source organic bananas from other growers, Velazquez de Leon said.