Chiquita Brands International is an American producer and distributor of produce, with bananas being its main product. In fact, it is the leading distributor of bananas in the United States. Formerly known as United Fruit Company, Chiquita has been in business for over one hundred years and was a pioneer in the globalization of the banana industry. As one of the first tropical fruits to be internationally traded, over the years bananas have become a cheap way to bring "the tropics" to North America and Europe. Because they have become such a common grocery item, it is easy to forget that bananas are actually grown on another continent. As the third leading staple crop in the world behind wheat and coffee, bananas are critical for economic and global food stability. In fact, they are one of the biggest profit makers in supermarkets (Schotter and Teagarden). Due to their popularity and how dependent the world is on them, the banana industry can cause an array of economic, social, environmental, political, and legal issues.
Unfortunately, these issues have influenced Chiquita International and the company has engaged in less than ethical practices over the years. It has paid bribes to Latin American government officials, exploited local workers, and engaged in business with terrorists (Schotter and Teagarden). In Colombia especially, Chiquita has done a lot of harm. Since the country has recently emerged from a deadly civil war and the effects of terrorism are still prevalent, it is understandable how easily Chiquita fell into these unethical practices. While it is understandable, it is not ethical. This paper will examine other aspects of Chiquita's practices and take a closer look at the topic of ethics in the workplace. It will also examine Chiquita's corporate social responsibility stage, its social responsibility in the food production industry, its issue maturity, and finally the future of ethics within Chiquita's operations.