1899, more than a century ago, shipping fresh bananas and preventing them from ripening en route was a real challenge. The first banana shippers, relying on favorable winds could only hope that their cargo would not ripen before they reached port. When Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker sailed the fishing schooner Telegraph from Jamaica to Jersey City in 1870, with a load of 160 bunches, he stowed them on deck and waited for fair winds.
His luck held, and he arrived in New Jersey 11 days later, where he sold them for a profit of $2.00 per bunch. This was the beginning of what is now known as Chiquita Brands International.
In 1899, the United Fruit Company was founded. The company was fruit of the merge of Boston Fruit Company owned by Captain Baker and Andrew Preston and a railway company that had planted bananas alongside its tracks. Minor C. Keith and his railroad companies merged with the Boston Fruit Company to create the United Fruit Company on March 30, 1899.
United Fruit Company issued its first annual shareholders report a year later, in 1990 and was first listed on New York Stock Exchange in 1903.
Great White Fleet
The Great White Fleet name can be traced back to 1907, when President Teddy Roosevelt sent a fleet of warships on a worldwide tour. These ships were painted white instead of the now customary gray, and became known as the Great White Fleet. At the same time, Captain Baker also painted his ships white to reflect the tropical sunlight and allow banana temperatures to be more easily maintained.
As the United Fruit Company fleet of big, fast, white-painted reefer vessels grew, they too became known as the Great White Fleet. By 1930, the company’s fleet had grown to 95 ships.
Towards the end of World War II, the Company introduced the name Chiquita and the Miss Chiquita character and jingle. Miss Chiquita was introduced as the logo and mascot for the banana company in 1944 and was drawn by artist Dik Browne.
In the early years, Miss Chiquita appeared on radio shows and made many guest appearances in movies, commercials, and even the Boston Pops Symphony Orchestra. The banana, Miss Chiquita, was changed into a woman with a fruit hat in 1987.
1963, the current logo features a rough rendering of the woman above the brand name on a blue seal. The Company began the largest branding program ever undertaken by a produce marketer, accompanied by a record-breaking ad campaign which included affixing the trademark Blue Sticker to bananas,
The company sponsored the XIII Olympic Winter Games held in Lake Placid in 1980. The brand issued a limited edition of 16 collectible stickers featuring the raccoon mascot of the games.
American speed skater Eric Heiden won all five speed skating events from 500m all the way up to 10,000m, setting an Olympic record in every one. He became the first person in Olympic history to win five gold medals in individual events at the same Games.
In 1990, the Company officially changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, Inc. to take advantage of global brand name recognition. In the 90s, Chiquita started its journey to become a more sustainable company by partnering with NGOs such as Rainforest Alliance for achieving certification for all of its owned banana farms in Latin America by 2000.
The same year, Chiquita adopted the Social Accountability 8000 standard for labor rights as the core labor standard for its operations.
Chiquita Brands International is acquired in 2015 by agribusiness Grupo Cutrale and J. Safra Group. The company repositions the brand as ‘playful by nature’ and launches the Just Smile campaign around the globe.
Captain Lorenzo Dow Baker purchased 160 bunches of bananas in Jamaica and sailed them to Jersey City in 11 days, where he sold them for a profit.
Minor C. Keith traveled to Costa Rica and contracted to build a national railroad. Since he needed cargo and passengers for the railroad, he planted bananas alongside the tracks to provide paying fares both inland and back to the sea.
Captain Baker started a partnership with Andrew Preston and investors and called it Boston Fruit Company.
Keith and his railroad companies merged with the Boston Fruit Company to create the United Fruit Company on March 30,
Fruit Dispatch Company was formed to distribute bananas throughout the United States. The company broke new ground over the years in the distribution of fresh perishable produce to interior regions.
Painted ships white to reflect tropical sun and maintain optimum temperature for bananas. The ships were referred to as The Great White Fleet.
United Fruit Company revolutionized ocean transportation of perishable food products by using refrigerated vessels. United Fruit listed on New York Stock Exchange.
United Fruit perfected an unbroken string of wireless communication from the United States to South America. They were the first company to bring this new technology to the tropics so that the ships at sea could communicate vital information with company locations in Latin America.
The Company initiated the first banana research in Latin America to develop new disease-resistant varieties.
Company’s fleet grew to 95 ships.
World War II brought the banana industry to a virtual standstill. Company ships were requisitioned by British and American governments to aid in the war effort.
The Company introduced the name Chiquita and the Miss Chiquita character and jingle.
Chiquita was registered as a trademark in the United States.
The Company began shipping pre-cut hands of bananas in cardboard boxes instead of bunches, to protect against bruising.
The Company began the largest branding program ever undertaken by a produce marketer, accompanied by a record-breaking ad campaign which included affixing the trademark Blue Sticker to bananas: "This seal outside means the best inside."
The Chiquita brand was introduced in Europe.
The Chiquita label was introduced in Europe.
The Company was awarded its first patent for modified atmosphere packaging to provide a low oxygen atmosphere in individual boxes of bananas to arrest ripening during transit.
The Company merged with AMK Corporation, which operated the John Morrell meat business; name changed to United Brands Company.
The Company introduced the first refrigerated container ships for transport of bananas between Latin America and Texas.
Chiquita was the official sponsor and supplier of bananas to the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York.
Chiquita took delivery of the first of four new refrigerated ships for the Panama to Europe trade.
The Company officially changed its name to Chiquita Brands International, Inc. to take advantage of global brand name recognition. Chiquita took delivery of first of 16 refrigerated ships in its modern fleet and invests in major banana expansion in the Atlantic zone of Costa Rica.
Chiquita built a state-of-the-art banana processing plant in Costa Rica. Chiquita is the first banana company to work with the environmental organizations Rainforest Alliance on the Better Banana Project.
Chiquita’s refrigerated ships were fitted with new controlled atmospheres to further slow the ripening process and enhanced the quality of fruit shipments.
First Chiquita farms were certified by the Rainforest Alliance's Better Banana Project.
Chiquita bananas were certified by the American Heart Association.
Chiquita completed the expansion of the world's largest banana processing plant located in Costa Rica.
Chiquita adopted Core Values and updated its Code of Conduct to include Social Accountability International's SA8000 labor standard. Rainforest Alliance certified 100 percent of Chiquita's farms in Latin America to strict environmental and social standards of the Better Banana Project.
Chiquita & IUF, COLSIBA sign a historic agreement on labor rights for banana workers. Wal-Mart named Chiquita Environmental Supplier of the Year.
Chiquita joined the Ethical Trading Initiative. The company is named one of top 20 "green stocks” by The Progressive Investor.
Chiquita received “Corporate Conscience Award” from Social Accountability International.
100 percent of Chiquita’s owned farms in Latin America certified to SA8000 labor standard. Chiquita earns "Corporate Citizen of the Americas Award" from Organization of American States for Nuevo San Juan home-ownership project in Honduras.
Chiquita introduces breakthrough food safety innovation Fresh Rinse.
Chiquita becomes National Strategic Partner for USDA MyPlate Program.
German retailer REWE Customer Award as one of the most sustainable products
World’s largest solar tracking system on a roof now complete at Chiquita facility in US
amongst top 15 most loved brands by parents in America, Brand Love Study – Smarty Pants