Bananas love hot, humid climates and ours are grown primarily in the lowland areas of Latin America. Banana farms are labor intensive and our produce relies being in a temperature controlled environment from the farms at which bananas are harvested all the way to a local grocery store, a journey that can cover thousands of miles. We asked how we could make each step in that journey an environmentally responsible one.
Our answer came in the 1990s when we decided to test a pioneering program created by the Rainforest Alliance, an organisation that promotes good farming practices to protect the environment and support farming communities. Unlike anyone else at the time,
It wasn't going to be easy. Rainforest Alliance certification was only granted to those farms that met strict environmental and social standards. To make sure we were meeting those standards, Rainforest Alliance had auditors, independent experts acting on behalf of member organisations of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), assess our farms every year while having full access to all workplaces, documents and employees.
In 1992, we became the first major banana company to agree to work with the Rainforest Alliance and by 2000 all our owned farms (which at the time were in Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras and Guatemala) had become Rainforest Alliance Certified™. Today, the majority of our supplier farms are too. Rainforest Alliance certification means our bananas are grown with respect for the environment, and our employees receive fair wages as well as enjoying good working conditions.
This is not the only standard we use to make sure we’re respecting the environment and our employees. In 2000, we adopted Social Accountability International’s SA8000 labor rights standard, achieving SA8000 certification on all our owned farms since 2004. A year later in 2001, Chiquita became the first major agricultural company to sign an International Framework Agreement with two leading trade unions: the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) and COLSIBA, the organization that represents Latin American banana workers’ unions.
The Rainforest Alliance began urging banana producers to grow bananas in a way that was kinder to the environment, employees and local communities.
David McLaughlin, Chiquita’s then general manager of Costa Rican operations, tests the pioneering scheme conceived by the Rainforest Alliance.
Since 1992 we’ve planted nearly one million native trees and bushes to stop soil erosion and restore native habitats.
First two company-owned farms become Rainforest Alliance Certified in Costa Rica.
Corporate Responsibility Steering Committee formed to ensure that our new way of doing business was adopted throughout Chiquita.
The use of Paraquat is stopped. As part of Rainforest Alliance certification, Chiquita abides by the prohibition of the use of 99 active ingredients, including all Pesticide Action Network Dirty Dozen substances (such as Paraquat), banned or severely restricted substances by the U.S. EPA and European Union and globally banned substances under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP).
Core Values of Integrity, Respect, Opportunity and Responsibility were adopted after consultation with thousands of employees. Today you can find these Core Values on the walls of our workplaces and on business cards worldwide, in many languages. Our Core Values serve as an ethical compass providing guidance and direction – both for the conduct of our company and the behavior of each employee.
SA8000 - one of the world's pre-eminent social standards that ensures our employees are treated fairly, properly and have good working conditions -- adopted.
Code of Conduct strengthened and updated. This was an important milestone and a public commitment to high standards. At the heart of our Code of Conduct is the SA8000 standard. Our Code of Conduct provides guidance on how to behave ethically and act correctly.
All our owned farms are Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM.
First and so far only banana company to sign an International Framework Agreement (IFA) with international trade union federations. The IFA commits us to applying internationally established labor rights’ standards across our workplaces and farms. This includes the right to join trade unions, and the prohibition of child labor, forced labor and discrimination.
First CSR Report published.
Chiquita begins the Nogal Project, a biodiversity partnership with Swiss retailer MIGROS and, soon after, GTZ Development in Costa Rica.
Chiquita Helpline launched to enable our employees to freely, and under the fullest protection possible, report concerns or ask questions in confidence and anonymously (where permitted by local law). Operated by an independent, third party and available 24/7 by phone or by email in any language, the Helpline is available to every Chiquita employee.
Chiquita receives a Citizens of Americas Award from the Organization of American States (OAS) for the company’s employee home ownership program. In 2012, more than 5,000 Chiquita banana production employees have become homeowners as the result of this program.
All of Chiquita’s owned farms have maintained SA8000 certification. We are the only major banana company to achieve this status.
We join WWF USA’s Mesoamerican Reef Project to measure and reduce the impact farming practices have on endangered Caribbean coral reefs as some of our farms are in the watershed of the Caribbean Ocean.
Since 2006 we have achieved a 66% reduction of nematicide use over the entire area of Chiquita’s owned farms.
Full time Occupational Health & Safety specialists are in every region and at every port where we operate to ensure accidents are prevented wherever possible.
Biodiversity Partnership begins with REWE, GIZ, CORBANA in the San San region bordering our farms in Panama and Costa Rica.
World Banana Forum (WBF) Founding Member - WBF promotes the worldwide adoption of sustainable practices throughout the global supply chain for banana production and trade. Members include supermarkets, trade unions, small farmers' organizations and fruit companies that come together with the aim of bringing about environmental and social improvements in the industry.
Carbon Footprint study with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which measured the carbon footprint of our products from farm to retail to help us identify the best ways to reduce our carbon dioxide footprint.
Ocean transportation Carbon emissions resulting from shipments to Europe reduced by one third.
Our RPBC (Returnable Plastic Bulk Container) program – where retailers return our cartons and plastic packaging to us - is the first case of returnable plastic in the industry; Climatop presented the company with a CO2 Champion Award in 2010.
Mundimar Biodigester installed. A Biodigester is a natural digestion process that operates without fuel or electricity to breakdown excess fruit and other materials into energy producing biogas gas as well as fertilizer rich in plant nutrients for the land. The system also purifies wastewater and generates electricity.
Women’s Committee of IUF/COLSIBA/Chiquita managers is established to focus on women’s employment issues, including workplace safety, free of harassment and improve opportunities for personal and professional development.
Our new Ripening Center – one of the first (if not the first) carbon neutral banana ripening facility in the world -- opens in the Netherlands.
Chiquita received the REWE Group’s PRO PLANET label, the first non-REWE Group brand to be recognized.
We bought or leased 7,000 new energy-saving containers, representing 49% of the total fleet of 14,162, which reduced our CO2 emissions by 17,000 tons per year.
Employee Volunteer Time Off benefit program begins, which provides 8 hours of paid community service time to Chiquita employees to dedicate to community and sustainability projects.
Chiquita offers free breast cancer screenings to more than 470 women in Cost Rica.
Chiquita celebrates 20 years working with the Rainforest Alliance.
Water Footprint Study with WWF International to develop the water footprint of our banana and U.S. packaged salad products.
Target Zero Initiative is launched with the objective of building a culture of safety and zero safety incidents.
Target is 30% carbon emissions reduction and 15% reduction in water use from a 2007 baseline.
It's only natural that we operate responsibly in the communities where we live and work.
Discover all the positive things Chiquita has done as part of earning our Rainforest Alliance certification:
Ed Lonergan, CEO
"At Chiquita we are committed to growing and selling the best tasting bananas, produced under good working conditions by loyal and motivated employees. Our bananas are grown in a way that is respectful of the environment and local communities, in strict compliance with all applicable laws, consistent with being a good and responsible citizen.
But we also recognize that we still have much work to do to meet today’s sustainability challenges, especially those of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water use.
In doing that, we will be guided by our new Statement of Purpose: ‘Improving Lives - Loving our Planet – Leading our Industry.’ It sends a signal that ethical conduct and social responsibility are here to stay."
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