Chiquita Brands International Inc. (NYSE: CQB – News) entered into a joint venture with Haitong Food Group Co., Ltd. for the processing, sale, and marketing of value-added fresh produce in China, marking the company’s initial entry into an important emerging market.

“Introducing the Chiquita brand to the emerging Chinese value-added produce market is an important strategic step in becoming a global leader in branded, healthy, fresh foods,” says Fernando Aguirre, chairman and CEO, who participated in the signing ceremony today in Shanghai. “Our strategy allows us to capitalize on health and wellness trends globally … we are confident that combining our strong brand and marketing capabilities with [Haitong’s] local expertise will position us to successfully enter this promising market.”

“Haitong has been in the export-orientated vegetable processing industry for more than 20 years and has actively sought opportunities to provide more fresh and healthy vegetables to Chinese consumers,” said Longhai Chen, chairman of Haitong Food Group. “The opportunity to work with Chiquita enables our two companies to forge a common vision between East and West.”

Under the agreement, Chiquita will provide limited capital investment and have majority ownership of the joint venture company, Zhejiang Chiquita-Haitong Food Company Limited, which will operate food processing operations in Cixi, China. The company will market and sell value-added produce, such as fresh packaged salads, fresh cut fruits and vegetables and fresh chilled beverages in China.

The joint venture is committed to meeting Chiquita’s high social, environmental, and food safety standards. Chiquita will support the project with its sound agricultural and food safety practices, as well as logistics, marketing and distribution expertise. Commencement of activities under the joint venture is subject to the receipt of relevant regulatory approvals, which are expected during the fourth quarter. Chiquita was advised throughout the transaction by Shiyao Investments Ltd.