Chiquita Brands International has refused to be drawn on the “aggressive actions” it is taking to boost profits but said it is on target to save around US$40m in costs this year.

The US-based fruit group, renowned for its banana supplies, is looking to streamline the business against a backdrop of falling profits at the company.

Chairman and CEO Fernando Aguirre said he was “not satisfied” after falling profits during the second quarter caused first-half earnings to slump.

He promised “aggressive actions” to grow earnings, although a Chiquita spokesman declined to comment on specifics.

Nevertheless, the spokesman said Chiquita is on-track to meet its cost-savings targets this year, most of which, he told just-food today (3 August), is coming from the company’s tropical production and supply chain.

“Our objective is sustainable profit growth, based on delivering a higher margin innovation programme and a high-performance organization. We will continue to drive efficiency [and] clearly we will look across the board.”

Chiquita saw operating income tumble 38% to US$52.3m during the six months to 30 June, despite sales inching up 2.7% to $2.4bn. Second-quarter profits fell almost 25% to $34.3m.

Chiquita’s profits were hit by “lower results” from its salads and healthy snacks business due to rising costs.

The spokesman said last year’s e-coli outbreak among spinach products in the US had, although unrelated to Chiquita’s products, affected its salad sales.

He said: “As the market leader, our company’s Fresh Express products were affected. Consumer confidence has been difficult and slow to recover.”