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    Chiquita Banana Prices Rise

    CINCINNATI -- Chiquita Brands International, Inc. here said banana prices in all markets increased year-over-year in October and November. In North America, banana pricing rose 8 percent, while volume rose 1 percent.

    CINCINNATI -- Chiquita Brands International, Inc. here said banana prices in all markets increased year-over-year in October and November. In North America, banana pricing rose 8 percent, while volume rose 1 percent.

    In Europe, prices increased 8 percent on a local currency basis and 22 percent on a U.S. dollar basis. Volume in that market fell 7 percent, due to the company's strategy of maintaining its price premium without pursuing volume at unfavorable margins. Pricing also rose in the Asia Pacific and Middle East markets, while volume declined 9 percent, due in part to supply constraints in the Philippines.

    In the salads and healthy snacks segment, retail volume rose 11 percent in the two-month period. The year-over-year change in future periods is expected to moderate as the category moves beyond the anniversary of the industry E. coli outbreak of September 2006.

    "Rising industry costs, particularly from fuel and purchased raw products, continue to pressure our margins," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive.

    Aguirre said those pressures are a key reason why Chiquita recently restructured its business to improve profitability by consolidating operations and simplifying overhead, which is expected to generate approximately $60-$80 million in cost reductions annually beginning in 2008.

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