Chiquita boycott going bananas

Carol Christian, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:39 PM ET

FORT McMURRAY, Alta. -- A radio ad will hit airwaves across the country this week, continuing the call for Canadians to boycott Chiquita Brands International after its decision to boycott oilsands crude.

The ad, created by EthicalOil.org in response to the Chiquita oilsands boycott announced last week by ForestEthics, calls on Canadians to boycott Chiquita for its decision to rely on “conflict oil from some of the world’s most odious regimes.”

ForestEthics announced Thursday it was working with the U.S. company to eliminate shipping of Chiquita bananas with fuel from refineries that use the crude.

“We wanted to call on all Canadians to boycott Chiquita products,” said Kathryn Marshall, blog spokeswoman, explaining the reasoning behind the ad.

“We think it’s important we fight back as Canadians ... and send a strong message.”

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney tweeted Saturday night: “I gather that Chiquita Bananas has no problem with Iranian oil, but is boycotting Canadian oil. No more Chiquita bananas for me.”

A variety of comments condemning the company and condemning the oilsands can be found on the blog site in response to the ad. Marshall acknowledged that not everyone is going to agree, but the point is to get people talking and talking they are.

“We get all kinds of people debating on our blog and we’ve also set up a ‘Boycott Chiquita’ Facebook group. There’s a ton of debate happening on that wall which is really great and people sort of taking personal boycotts into their own hands,” she said, offering three examples from the page.

One was from a woman in Alberta who wrote: “My best story is going to the grocery store just now, spoke with the produce manager who agreed with me and asked me to write their head office as he does not have a say in where they order from.

"Then I stood by the Fresh Express display and told everyone buying the product that it was a Chiquita product. Not one person bought any, then as I shopped if I saw (them) in someone’s cart I explained and they all refused to buy it.”

Fresh Express is a subsidiary of Chiquita Bands.

Another story was posted by an Ontario resident: “Delighted to advise that Zehr’s supermarkets (a Loblaws-owned chain in central and SW Ontario) in Barrie, ON, has ZERO Chiquita bananas and ZERO Fresh Express salads on sale! ... ONLY DelMonte bananas and Dole bagged salads. Their produce manager did not know WHY, but said ‘that’s all they shipped me so that’s all I’ve got’ ... I told him about the boycott, and he replied ‘That explains it then!’”

Finally, a post from a woman in Vancouver: “My husband manages the produce dept. of a busy local grocery store in our city. He has spoken to the store manager about Chiquita and they are looking to promote alternative companies like Dole and DelMonte. The store already offers quite a salad selection, so losing “Fresh Express” salads is not a hardship. He is explaining the situation to customers and they are supporting him by not buying Chiquita. Wonder how they are enjoying the pushback?”

“There’s some incredibly awesome stories that people are posting,” said Marshall. “People are really taking it into their own hands, which is fantastic. Consumers have a lot of say and I think Chiquita is really underestimating how pissed off Canadians are about this, especially Albertans.

“We’re proud of our oil industry and we’re proud of what we’re doing. If Chiquita wants to take a stand against oil, why aren’t they taking a stand against Iranian oil or conflict oil from Venezuela?”

No comment has been made yet from Chiquita.

However, ForestEthics’ website is now challenging Dole to boycott the oilsands.

The blog also launched a new website — Chiquitaconflict.com — furthering the calls for the Chiquita boycott. The website went live Sunday afternoon.

“We want to get as many Canadians out there boycotting Chiquita products as possible. I’m excited about every action we’ve been getting,” Marshall said.

Meanwhile, Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said Friday it’s disappointing to see another company make this decision based on misinformation and rhetoric instead of fact.

“Alberta’s oilsands are the most safe, secure and reliable source of energy in the world, and tremendous progress has been made in reducing emissions and environmental impacts,” she said in her statement.

“Personally, I will boycott Chiquita products until they reverse their ill-informed decision to avoid fuel from Alberta’s oilsands.

"I am proud of Alberta’s record of responsible resource development.”

Smith also called on Alberta Premier Alison Redford to join her in denouncing Chiquita’s decision and commit to an aggressive strategy to counter special interests that seek to cripple and shut down Alberta’s oilsands.

carol.christian@fortmcmurraytoday.com


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