IRELAND – Dole plc, an Irish agricultural multinational corporation, has offloaded its fresh vegetables division in the US to Fresh Express, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiquita Holdings for US$293 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments.
Dole plc was formed in 2021 through the merger of Dole Food Co. and Ireland’s Total Produce. The company is among the world’s largest producers of fruit and vegetables, operating with 38,500 full-time and seasonal employees who supply some 300 products in 75 countries.
As of 2021, the company had approximately 250 processing plants and distribution centers worldwide in addition to 109,000 acres (44,000 ha) of farmland and real estate.
Dole Plc operates through four segments: Fresh Fruit (bananas and pineapples); Diversified Fresh Produce in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; Diversified Fresh Produce in the Americas and other world regions; and Fresh Vegetables.
The Fresh Vegetables Division comprises operations related to the processing and sale of whole produce such as iceberg, romaine, leaf lettuces, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, asparagus, artichokes, green onions, sprouts, radishes, and cabbage, as well as salads and meal kits.
The business has agricultural operations and four processing plants across the United States and employs more than 3,000 people.
In the financial year ending December 31, 2021, the Fresh Vegetables Division reported revenue of US$1.28 billion.
The Dublin-headquartered company plans to use the net proceeds from the sale, which is subject to regulatory approval, to primarily reduce debt. The parties expect that the transaction will close after approval is obtained.
Carl McCann, the executive chairman of the Dole Plc group, believes the sale of this division will strengthen the company’s financial position and increase the group’s focus on and investments in its core activities.
Meanwhile, Chiquita Holdings–the parent group of North Carolina-based Chiquita Brands International–is described as a global supplier of bananas and pineapples under the Chiquita name.
Fresh Express, meanwhile, produces fresh vegetables and packaged salads under its brand, with both companies marketing products in the US.
Jose Luis Cutrale Jr., Chiquita Holdings chairman, added: “With this transaction, we want to combine our best practices across food safety, the freshness of produce, mechanization, automation, and innovation to offer rapidly expanding choices of safer and healthier produce products to the consumer.”
“This combination will ultimately help drive growth in the entire produce industry and support higher demand for our valued produce grower base in California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and across the entire USA.”
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