Water footprint management on Chiquita farms saves 1.8 billion liters of water each year

Corporate News
26 Jan 2018

As part of the comprehensive farm reengineering efforts, Chiquita is committed to reducing fresh water use.

In terms of water consumption, two pounds of bananas will require 400 to 600 liters of water to grow and to process the fruit including cleaning, dehanding ("dehanding" is the process of separating the entire banana bunches into smaller hands of 5 to 6 bananas) and packing. Most of the water comes from rainfall but in areas where water is scarce, Chiquita relies on irrigation from local aquifers, wells and rivers.

Through the installation of water re‐circulation systems currently at 26% of our farms, water consumption is cut by 80%, which accounts for average annual water savings of 1.7 billion liters. Additionally, we operate dry dehanding packing stations at 23% of all our farms, accounting for water saving of about 160 Million liters per year. Additionally, micro-irrigation systems and plant ground cover help reduce water runoff from our farmland.

Water use reduction is only one side of the water footprint calculation. The other side is the quality of the water that runs off our farms back into the natural cycle. We take systematic measures to make sure that our run‐off water is clean:

  • All our packing stations have wastewater filters to prevent even small pieces of fruit from entering rivers and streams.
  • Chiquita takes measures to prevent any chemicals from reaching rivers and streams:
    • The banks of all natural watercourses are reforested and protected
    • All drainage ditches on our banana farms are planted with cover crops and no agrochemical weed control is allowed
    • To prevent heavy rainfalls potentially washing chemicals into the drainage system, Chiquita switched from applying agrochemicals that kill banana - loving parasites (nematodes) in the soil, to injecting directly into the stem of the plant. That way the local watercourses and fish life remain chemical ­ free
  • Independent laboratories regularly sample and analyze the purity of the water in the rivers and streams leaving our farms at 67 different checkpoints.

Chiquita is committed to continue its efforts and work hard to reduce the water footprint today and in the years to come.