Chiquita Returning to the Port of Gulfport
After only two years in New Orleans, Chiquita announced they will return to the Port of Gulfport.
News 25’s Kristen Durand has more on the big move and why the produce distributor decided to come back.
Chiquita’s move to the Port of New Orleans back in 2014 was a pretty big blow to the Port of Gulfport. Port of Gulfport Executive Director Jonathan Daniels said, “When Chiquita left, I think people were sort of looking at the port thinking ‘is this the death nail for Gulfport?’”
Five days later, they brought in new tenant McDermott. A sigh of relief, but they never lost sight of their long term relationship with Chiquita. Now, two years later, the produce distributor is making a comeback after finalizing a 40 year lease agreement allowing them to remain in Gulfport through 2056. “It was a very solid negotiation, very fair,” said Daniels, “Financially, it will double the amount of revenue that will come into the Port as opposed to what they were doing when they left in 2014 and early 2015.”
As to what drove Chiquita back here, heavier traffic in New Orleans making it harder to move their goods in and out of the port and higher costs. Another lure was a recent addition at the Port of Gulfport. “The biggest issue happened to be the cranes, that $30 million investment. Every time they come and sit up in this boardroom, they point out and say that’s one of the significant reasons as to why we are returning,” said Daniels.
Chiquita is set to return to their previous location in the north harbor, under the new agreement, while expanding into terminal one, which is the first terminal you see after you pass through the gate, doubling their space for operation. “Chiquita is talking to us about a much larger program than they’ve had here in the past. That certainly is going to bode well for the longshoremen. We lost close to 80,000 longshoremen hours on an annual basis so to be able to gain that back, be able to reestablish ourselves as a strong player in the container market and the Gulf of Mexico,” said Daniels.