Dole Foods expands into functional foods, targets US$2.1B valuation in IPO

US – Dole Packaged Foods has expanded into the increasingly popular functional food products category  with the launch of Dole Fruitify juices and Dole Essentials fruit bowls.

Fruitify with 65% juice and less than 100 calories per can has three varieties that combine pineapple juice with ingredients such as turmeric, green tea extract and coconut water.  

Dole Essentials fruit bowls are, on the other hand, available in three varieties that mix chunks of pineapple, mandarin oranges, or mixed fruit in 100% fruit juice with ingredients such as cucumber and mint, turmeric, and green tea extract.  

Both Dole Fruitify juices and Essentials fruit bowls have no added sugar, helping bring the company closer to meeting its goal of eliminating added sugar in all of its products by 2025. 

The lack of added sugar is also expected to make the items appealing to consumers who are trying to cut down on their intake of the sweetener.  

Studies in recent years have highlighted juice as a problematic beverage due to its serious sugar punch.  A 2019 study published in JAMA Network found that each 12-ounce daily serving of fruit juice is associated with a 24% higher mortality risk. 

The product launches also come as consumers seek out beverages and foods with health and immunity benefits during the pandemic. 

According to SPINS data, sales of conventional shelf-stable juice rose 9.5% in the 52 weeks ending April 18, while sales of refrigerated juices and functional beverages increased more than 12%.  

With the renewed interest from consumers in health and wellness during the pandemic, the Research Company expects the functional beverages market to grow at a rate of 8.07% from 2021 and hit US$158.28 billion by 2023. 

A US$2.1B valuation

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Meanwhile, the consumer-packaged goods company is eyeing a US$2.1 billion valuation in an Initial Product Offering (IPO) which Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank Securities, and Davy are lead underwriters. 

According to a statement from Dole, the company plans to sell 26,000,000 shares at an IPO price of between US$20 and US$23 per share. 

Earlier in February, the produce giant said it would file for an IPO in the U.S. as a condition of its planned merger with Ireland-based Total Produce.  

According to the F-1 filing, the merger is planned to be completed later this month, making Dole the world’s largest produce company, as well as the best-known brand in the industry, according to an Ipsos survey cited by the company.  

Dole has been angling to get back on the public market after its former CEO David Murdock took the company private in 2013.  

The company filed for an IPO in 2017 but withdrew it in 2018 after acquisition talks with a Belgian firm ended unsuccessfully. 

If Dole successfully returns to the stock market this year, it will find itself in the company of several new competitors including AppHarvest which went public in February with a US$1 billion valuation, and AeroFarms which will begin trading soon when its US$1.2 billion SPAC deal is completed. 

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