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Chiquita: Strawberry-Flavored Bananas a No-Go

CINCINNATI - An Associated Press interview with Chiquita International Brands, Inc. president and c.e.o. Fernando Aguirre apparently got the wrong end of the, er, banana when it comes to the company's future plans for the mainstay fruit, Progressive Grocer has learned.

The interview made it seem like Chiquita was researching different fruit flavors to add to bananas, but that's not so, according to the company's director of corporate communications, Mike Mitchell. He told Progressive Grocer that while Chiquita has been investigating new varieties of banana, which differ from each other in texture and taste, the company has no intention of actually injecting other flavors into bananas.

Although it may not be going the flavored-banana route, "the company is looking at innovation in the fresh fruit aisle" in general, Mitchell said, alluding to several projects currently in development, which he declined to identify for competitive reasons. Chiquita remains open to "offering additional choices if consumers tell us that would be exciting for them," noted Mitchell.

The company has already marketed a sweeter banana variety, the Highland, in Japan, where it was well received. Chiquita expects to test some of its new products in the United States or Europe within the year.

In May Chiquita posted a 20 percent decline in first-quarter earnings of $20 million, although sales surged 68 percent. Lower banana prices in North America and Europe partly offset the leap in sales. Aguirre told the AP that his first priority is to boost profits in North America.
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