Jan 31, 2023
Fresh Express plans to buy Dole salad, vegetable business

Dole plans to sell its fresh vegetables division to bagged salad and fresh-cut vegetable company Fresh Express.

The sale by Dole to an “affiliate” of Fresh Express Inc., a subsidiary of Chiquita Holdings Ltd., is for $293 million in cash, according to a news release. The sale is subject to regulatory approval.

The Fresh Vegetables Division includes operations related to the processing and sale of whole produce such as iceberg, romaine and leaf lettuces, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, asparagus, artichokes, green onions, sprouts, radishes, and cabbage, and salads and meal kits. In the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2021, Dole’s Fresh Vegetables Division reported revenue of $1.28 billion. The business has agricultural operations and four processing plants across the U.S. and employs more than 3,000 people.

Net proceeds from the sale are currently expected to be used primarily for debt reduction of Dole.

“We are pleased to announce the sale of our Fresh Vegetables Division,” Carl McCann, executive chairman of Dole plc said in the release. “Combining with Fresh Express will improve the offering and service to customers and consumers through increased investments in innovation, efficiencies, and food safety.

“We would like to thank the dedicated employees of this business for their valuable contributions over the years,” McCann said in the release. “We believe the sale of this division will strengthen our financial position and increase the Group’s focus on and investments in our core activities.”

Jose Luis Cutrale Jr., chairman of Chiquita Holdings, said cost savings related to the purchase will help mitigate the recent effects of inflation on produce and other foods.

“With this transaction, we want to combine our best practices across food safety, freshness of produce, mechanization, automation, and innovation to offer rapidly expanding choices of safer and healthier produce products to the consumer,” Cutrale said in the release. “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.

“We aim to bring an improved value proposition to the consumer while allowing us to better manage the shortage of agricultural and manufacturing labor, supply chain challenges and water issues,” he said in the release. “At the same time, we are striving to constantly reduce the carbon footprint of our products.”

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