Corporate Bio

Port of Hueneme + Chiquita
Port of Hueneme + Chiquita

Bio, Raquel Cano, Chiquita

In a world full of gray areas, Raquel Cano believes in the power of black and white. “It’s the way I am. I’m a person who likes to keep things straightforward. I like when everything’s clear, direct, and any issues are brought out onto the table.” Cano is the Port Operations Manager for Chiquita Brands International.

On her experience working with the port, Cano says that the “transparency” and “openness” of the culture is something she really appreciates. “If we have a concern, if we have a request, if we have an issue, it’s just a matter of picking up the phone and having a conversation.” Cano says, “If we can solve it right now, we solve it. If not, we see what options we have and go from there.”

Every week, Chiquita unloads an average of 300 containers off of a single vessel in Port Hueneme. That’s nearly 16,000 containers annually, and bananas account for 90% of this cargo. The remaining 10% includes Chiquita plantains and pineapples. Chiquita also ships produce on behalf of smaller companies on a seasonal basis. Melons are in season currently, so you’re sure to come across boxes of melons from the Sol Group and other produce companies during any given unload.

By Land and by Sea – The Odyssey of the Chiquita Banana

The ship usually comes in from the Tropics on Wednesdays. That’s when you’ll find Raquel and her team at the port, making sure all cargo is accounted for and that the boat is unloaded and departs on schedule.

From Port Hueneme, Chiquita’s cargo is drayed to its Oxnard distribution center, where a 30-person work force prepares the bananas, pineapples, plantains, et al., for the next leg of their journey. A little over a third of the produce that arrives at the Oxnard center is picked up by local distributors who deliver to nearby markets. The rest is shipped out in bulk by Chiquita to various destinations. Most of the product goes south and south east, to the Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, and downtown LA areas. The remainder goes north, as far as Washington State and Canada.

Port Hueneme is Chiquita’s second largest US import site. About 15 million boxes of Chiquita products go through the port every year.

Cano’s Tropical Roots

In Chiquita company parlance, everything between the US-Mexico border and the northwestern edge of South America is referred to collectively as “The Tropics.” The Tropics are a very important region to Chiquita, because it’s here, between these hot and humid latitudes, that bananas grow best.

Mrs. Cano herself is a product of “The Tropics.” Though born in California, her family moved to Costa Rica when she was two years old. She was raised there and began her career with Chiquita there as well. That career began in 2005 when Cano was selected to participate in a training program for recent college graduates—a 6-month masterclass in Chiquita’s Costa Rica operations. “We went through every single area: from knowing how to plant a seed, to harvesting, to packing, finance, HR…”

Following the completion of her training, Chiquita offered Cano a job as a Quality Control Supervisor. She would help oversee the network of independent Costa Rican farms that sold their banana crop to Chiquita. Central to her responsibilities was the monitoring of both agricultural and labor practices on these farms, ensuring they rose to the level of company standards.

(excerpted from "Customer Spotlight: Rachel Cano, Chiquita" Hueneme Dock Talk, 2017, p. 7)

Read the entire article here.

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