CINCINNATI, April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Chiquita Brands (NYSE: CQB) today unveiled the Nogal Collection exclusively at the Chiquita online store at www.ChiquitaStore.com. The Nogal Collection debuts recycled products produced by all-female microbusiness – Manos Creativas ("Creative Hands") – in Costa Rica, part of a Chiquita-supported corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to develop independent sources of revenue in the communities near the Nogal Nature and Community Project.
"It is our pleasure to present these handcrafted, earth-friendly products," said Manuel Rodriguez, Chiquita senior vice president, government and international affairs and corporate responsibility officer. "Most significantly, these products are the inspiration and work of an all-female microenterprise who are beneficiaries of all sales. While there is more yet to be achieved in fostering sustainable enterprises, we are honored to collaborate with Manos Creativas and offer their remarkable work to consumers everywhere."
"Our products are recycled and contain the essence of the Costa Rican forest; we are taking waste and turning it into works of art," said Luzania Alfaro, Manos Creativas business partner. "Our participation in Manos Creativas helps us be an example for our children. Through our products we convey a message of conservation, improvement and innovation for a better quality of life."
The Nogal Collection features natural fibers from banana leaves, organic and paper waste lovingly crafted into functional works of art by the women of Manos Creativas in Sarapiqui, Costa Rica. Founded in 2004 as a microbusiness initiative supported by the Nogal Nature and Community Project, the program focused on training female entrepreneurs to generate additional revenue opportunities. Visitors to the Chiquita online store will see a profile on each woman who developed the product they are purchasing http://www.ow.ly/4oXOU.
Nogal Nature and Community Project in Costa Rica
Chiquita has collaborated with partners including the Swiss retailer Migros, the Rainforest Alliance and the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ) to create the Nogal Nature and Community Project. Established in 2004, the goals of the Nogal Nature and Community Project are to promote the long-term conservation of biodiversity in protected forests and restored habitats within biological corridors, promote environmental awareness through education, and involve the cooperation of local communities and institutions in the development of sustainable initiatives.
The region of Sarapiqui, where the Nogal Wildlife Refuge is located, is one of the most biodiverse in Costa Rica. Studies carried out at La Selva Biological Station have identified the presence of at least 2,100 species of diurnal butterflies, 414 bird species (nearly half of the country's total), 119 species of mammals, 48 amphibians and 87 reptile species, and more than 2,000 species of plants.
As part of the Nogal Project's objectives, six microbusinesses were organized, including Manos Creativas, in the nearby communities surrounding the Refuge, in order to promote additional income opportunities for the beneficiaries directly involved, as well as to their families and communities.
Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Oscar Arias presented Chiquita with the 2006 Contribution to the Community Award on behalf of the American-Costa Rican Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in recognition of the Nogal Nature and Community Project; this award was created to honor companies positively impacting their surroundings and investing in environmental improvements for their employees and the community. In addition, the Nogal Nature and Community Project has won the Blue Ecological Flag Award presented yearly by the Costa Rican government, consecutively from 2007 through 2010, in recognition of demonstrated environmental commitment, compliance and improvement of natural spaces. To see more information on Chiquita's CSR initiatives visit: http://www.chiquitabrands.com/CorporateCommitment/CorporateCommitment.aspx.
About Chiquita Brands International, Inc.
Chiquita Brands International, Inc. is a leading international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh and value-added food products – from energy-rich bananas and other fruits to nutritious blends of convenient green salads. The company markets its healthy, fresh products under the Chiquita® and Fresh Express® premium brands and other related trademarks. With annual revenues of more than $3 billion, Chiquita employs approximately 21,000 people and has operations in nearly 70 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit www.chiquitabrands.com.
SOURCE Chiquita Brands International, Inc.