USA – Dole, the world’s largest fresh produce company, is exploring acquisitions to grow its presence in popular produce markets as it faces supply disruptions to other products. 

“We’ve historically grown total produce through acquisitions and we continue to look for synergistic M&A opportunities,” said CEO Rory Byrne. 

The Charlotte, North Carolina based agricultural corporation particularly plans to boost market share in avocados, berries, salad kits and organic produce which have grown to represent around 25% of total revenue. 

Dole revealed that it is focused on product innovation in these categories as well as “additional opportunities for growth,” including potential acquisitions. 

Plans to expand to fast-growing produce categories come as the company consolidates sourcing operations in South Africa and Europe.  

Dole also expects to “make further strides with sourcing efficiencies” in South America, according to COO Johan Lindén. 

The emphasis on berries and other popular produce comes as Dole faces supply challenges with bananas and packed vegetables. 

Its banana farms in Guatemala and Honduras struggled to rebuild supply last year after two hurricanes swept through the region in late 2020. 

Dole spent US$16 million in replanting efforts in Honduras, and Byrne said force majeure pricing covered the “significant cost” associated with hurricane damage. 

At the same time, an oversupply of vegetables is pushing Dole to plant less to reduce its market exposure in 2022.  

Shipping delays and a lack of refrigerated containers have slowed agricultural exports, leaving the U.S. market awash in certain products and causing prices to decline, according to produce suppliers. 

Dole has its own shipping fleet, allowing it to largely avoid export issues impacting other suppliers. 

“Having our own fleet of ships provides greater certainty of distribution and enhances our supply chain transparency and control,” Byrne said. 

More packaged salads recalled 

Meanwhile, Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. is recalling some packaged salad products processed at its manufacturing plants in Springfield, Ohio, and Soledad, California.  

The recall has been prompted by the identification of Listeria monocytogenes on Equipment used to harvest raw iceberg lettuce used in the packaged salads 

This is the second Listeria-related recall for Dole Fresh Vegetables, a business unit of the Dole Food Co.  

The first recall, announced on Dec. 22, 2021, involved packaged salads processed at plants in Bessemer City, NC, and Yuma, Ariz. It is not clear if the two recalls are related. 

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