Chiquita, Amid Reorganization, Appoints New PR Chief
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Chiquita, Amid Reorganization, Appoints New PR Chief

Troubled fruit and vegetable marketer Chiquita Brands International has promoted Jeffrey Zalla to the new position of corporate responsibility officer and vice president of corporate communications.

Paul Holmes

CINCINNATI, November 28—Troubled fruit and vegetable marketer Chiquita Brands International has promoted Jeffrey Zalla to the new position of corporate responsibility officer and vice president of corporate communications. In his new position Zalla—who was previously vice president of strategic analysis—will report to Steven Warshaw, the company’s president and chief executive officer.
 
In his new role, Zalla will oversee the company’s corporate responsibility practices, including the development of measurement, verification, accountability, communication, and reporting systems. He also has overall responsibility for Chiquita’s internal and external communication efforts.
 
“This appointment recognizes Jeff’s contributions to our leadership vision for Chiquita, and it reflects the importance of Corporate Responsibility and effective communications to the Company’s overall performance,” says Warshaw. “Jeff has orchestrated our Corporate Responsibility efforts for the past three years, including our first Corporate Responsibility Report.”
 
The appointment comes as Chiquita announced plans to file a reorganization plan under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The company was hurt by a long-running trade dispute with European governments, which in 1993 enacted a restrictive quota system that cut Chiquita’s share of the EC market in half. The dispute was resolved in the company’s favor earlier this year, but not before it lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
But Chiquita was also damaged by a report in the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1998 that detailed a host of alleged environmental and human rights abuses in central America as well as the company’s political maneuverings to avoid responsibility for those problems. That report moved social responsibility to the top of Chiquita’s agenda.
 
A recent article in Fortune magazine, headlined “Yes, We Have No Profits,” chronicled “how a great American brand lost its way,” and suggested poor management was as much to blame for Chiquita’s decline as the trade dispute.
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