(Nov. 27) The Chilean division of Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. has sold more of its assets in Chile and should have most of its land and facilities in the country sold by the end of the year.

Three plants and one farm were sold, to four different buyers for $12 million, said Guillermo Reveco, general manager of Santiago-based Chiquita Chile.

Mike Mitchell, a Chiquita spokesman, said the company expects to sell almost all of its assets in Chile by the end of 2007.

In August, Chiquita announced plans to downsize its Chilean operation to improve the company’s financial performance.

Chiquita said it would close and sell some farms, packing plants and other assets as it transitions out of the growing and exporting business.

Reveco said the goal of the company’s new business model is for Chiquita to have just the fruit it needs, not what it has to have to justify its investment in packinghouses or farms.

Under the new model, Chiquita Chile is more customer-focused and market-driven, he said.

Chiquita Chile also will have more flexibility to source from where it wants to, depending on what the market calls for, Reveco said.

Selling its assets is expected to increase margins and reduce volatility in Chiquita’s Chilean operations, Mitchell said.

“We have positioned ourselves for a very significant year-on-year benefit in 2008 from our restructured Chilean operation, compared to the approximately $13 million in year-to-date net losses we have incurred in 2007, including charges,” Mitchell said.

Chiquita reduces Chilean holdings
"It’s a big change in our business model. We’re moving from a traditional export model to one in which growers provide the product, and we represent them."

Guillermo Reveco
Chiquita Chile