Corporate responsibility at chiquita
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Corporate Responsibility at Chiquita. Michael Mitchell Director, Corporate Communications Chiquita Brands International April 7, 2004. Our Company. International producer and marketer of fresh produce 105-year-old company $3 billion in revenues Premium brand

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Corporate Responsibility at Chiquita

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Corporate Responsibility at Chiquita

Michael Mitchell

Director, Corporate Communications

Chiquita Brands International

April 7, 2004

Our Company

  • International producer and marketer of fresh produce

    • 105-year-old company

    • $3 billion in revenues

    • Premium brand

      • Healthy, nutritious, quality, fresh

    • Operations and sales in more than 60 countries

    • 24,000 employees worldwide, including 19,000 farm workers

      • About three-quarters unionized

    • Successful Chapter 11 restructuring completed March 2002

      • New strategic focus on core fresh produce business, cost reductions and increased financial flexibility

Chiquita’s situation – 1990s

  • A century of history, intrigue and reputation

  • Pressure from NGOs for alleged environmental and human rights abuses

  • Negative media





Costa Rica

Our Initial Steps

  • 1992: Rainforest Alliance

    • Nine measurable and verifiable environmental and social standards for sustainable banana production

  • 100% owned farms certified since 2000

    • Annual farm-by-farm certification audits by independent NGO experts

    • 8-year, $20 million effort

    • 5 countries

    • 120 farms

    • 60,000 acres

  • Expanding to independent suppliers





Our Core Values









Verifiable Standards

  • Rainforest Alliance Certification


  • Social Accountability International’s SA8000

    • Multistakeholder contributions, including labor unions

    • Based on core International Labor Organization and other human rights standards

    • Similar to Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code

    • Management systems, including procedures for continuity

    • External verification and certification by accredited auditors

Organization & Accountability

  • Corporate Responsibility Officer reports to Audit Committee of the Board of Directors

  • CR specialists in all divisions

  • Management systems

    • CR integrated into company strategy & planning

    • Annual CR objectives and bonus for managers

    • All managers sign annual code of conduct compliance statement

  • Education – At all levels

Employee Participation & Training

Letter boxes for confidential complaints and suggestions

More than 17,000 workers in Latin America trained in 2002

Performance Measurement

Transparent Reporting

  • Strategy

  • Standards & Goals

  • Performance

  • Verification

  • Key Issues

  • Focus on Latin American Banana Operations

  • 2002: Expand to include global logistics operations




Earning Credibility

“Chiquita continues to impress. The transparency of its corporate responsibility reporting and the use of highly respected independent observers…is a track record which is unmatched in our work in Latin America. While the road is long, Chiquita has traveled far in a few short years.”

Stephen Coats, Executive Director


IUF-COLSIBA-Chiquita Agreement – June 14, 2001

  • Employment in Latin American banana operations

  • Core ILO conventions

  • Collaboration on worker health and safety

  • Fair dealing and continuous improvement

    • Negotiate in good faith

    • Communicate in open, honest and straightforward manner

    • Avoid public international campaigns or anti-union retaliatory tactics

  • Collaboration on worker health and safety

  • Committee to review serious or systemic violations

A Model for Labor Relations

“We have seen real progress as a result of the Agreement in a number of Chiquita operations. We need to work hard to confront the serious challenges that remain, particularly with some Chiquita suppliers. I remain impressed with the good faith and serious intent Chiquita has brought to this process…”

Ron Oswald, General Secretary

Timeline of key CR events









Code of Conduct(SA8000)

CR Officer

1st internal audits

100% RA Certification

2nd internal audit with observers

ETI member

Worker training

Top 20 Sustainable Stock Picks (SB20)

2nd Report

SA8000 in Costa Rica

BSR Board

CERES-ACCA Sustainability Reporting Award

SAI Advisory


SAI Corporate Conscience Award

SA8000 in Colombia and Panama

EUREPGAP in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica

3rd report with logistics

SB20 again

OAS Corporate Citizen of the Americas Award


Steering Committee



Core Values

3rd-party pilot audits


IUF / COLSIBA Agreement

1st CR Report


  • Building understanding & commitment at all levels

    • Overcoming negative perceptions

    • Limiting fears – transparency, observers, etc.

    • Integrating into management systems

    • Extending standards & oversight to more locations and suppliers

  • Balancing priorities

    • Sustaining momentum through Chapter 11 and change in leadership

  • Raising industry accountability

  • Demonstrating benefits


  • Reputation management

  • Risk management

  • Employee satisfaction

  • Innovation and learning

  • Access to capital

  • Financial performance

Keys to Success

  • Conviction

    • Performance, not public relations

  • Commitment

    • Fundamental commitment to values

    • Ownership by operating managers

  • Communication

    • Open, honest, direct communications with all stakeholders

  • Consistency

    • Everyday management and reward systems

    • Continuous improvement

  • Credibility

    • Clear measurement and transparent reporting

    • Building trust by committing and delivering


  • More information about corporate responsibility at Chiquita is posted at

    Michael Mitchell

    Director, Corporate Communications

    Chiquita Brands International


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