Chiquita Brands International, Inc., Cincinnati, said it entered a European joint venture with Paris-based Danoneto market Chiquita's Just Fruit in a Bottle fruit beverages.

Chiquita officials said that -- in just four years -- the company's Just Fruit in a Bottle product has become a market leading brand of fruit smoothie in Europe with distribution in 12 countries, generating approximately euro 20 million of sales in 2009. Officials said the joint venture will provide Chiquita a new platform to expand its successful branded fruit beverage products in a more effective manner to achieve profitability.

"Chiquita's partnership with Danone leverages both firms' complementary strengths and will enable us to expand Just Fruit in a Bottle much faster and more efficiently across Europe, substantially increasing revenues and profitability," said Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita chairman and chief executive officer.  "Combining our iconic brand equity, sales expertise, and strong supply chain management with Danone's complementary geographic presence and its world-class nutrition research and development capabilities will allow us to make our best innovation in Europe bigger, better and more profitable faster."

Under the agreement, Chiquita and Danone will become financial and operational partners in a new joint venture managed by Danone and headquartered in Paris as the exclusive distributor of Chiquita Just Fruit in a Bottle and all future Chiquita branded beverage products in Europe. Chiquita will provide local sales, marketing and supply chain services. 

"We are excited to partner with Chiquita in providing consumers with healthy, fruit-based, fresh products," said Bernard Hours, co-chief operating officer of Danone. "The combination of Danone healthy European footprint together with Chiquita's operational expertise in fruit-based drinks will create exciting growth opportunities."