Perishables - Dole keeps its supply chain moving:

By: | at 08:00 PM | Channel(s): Ports & Terminals  

By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOT
The Dole Food Company, Inc. is no stranger to shoppers of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh-cut flowers. The company also markets a growing line of packaged foods. With 2003 revenues of $4.8 billion, Dole remains the world’s largest producer and marketer of perishable products. A global company, Dole does business in more than 90 countries and employs, on average, 36,000 full-time permanent employees and 23,000 full-time seasonal or temporary employees, worldwide. These folks include a worldwide team of growers, packers, processors, shippers and employees.
Getting its perishables from field to market is a major undertaking. Consequently, Dole is committed to comprehensive programs for food safety, scientific crop protection programs, stringent quality control measures, state-of-the-art production and transportation technologies, continuous improvement through research and innovation, and dedication to the safety of employees, communities and the environment.
Ports of preference
In order to bring its products to America’s shores, Dole has major operations at key ports of entry. Those ports are Wilmington, DE; Gulfport, MS and San Diego, CA. The company also utilizes smaller ports such as Port Everglades, FL and Freeport, TX.
The company has chosen these ports for specific reasons. Key reasons are that they are both affordable and efficient.
“That is one of the reasons why in Wilmington, DE, Gulfport, MS and Freeport, TX we have had a very lengthy relationship with these ports,” says Dennis Kelly, vice president US Port Operations/Terminals, Dole Fresh Fruit Company.
Dole’s lasting relationships in these ports can also be attributed to the talented and effective work force.
“Traditionally, Dole has had favorable experiences shipping our products through smaller ports that are strategically located,” Kelly adds. “Logistically, the Wilmington, DE service blankets the entire Northeast down into the Southeast and across into the upper mid section of the United States/Canada, which covers a large portion of the North American population. Dole is the Port of Wilmington’s single largest customer, which has its advantages.”
The Port of Wilmington will soon break ground on a new 60,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse for Dole and its tropical fruits.
“We hoped to break ground in October, but now we are looking at November,” says Tom Keefer, director of marketing and trade development.
Dole frequents the port with weekly service from Central America. To grow market share, the company needs additional warehousing space.
Dole is no newcomer to Gulfport, where the company has had continuous operations for 40 years.
“The Port of Gulfport has been a great experience for Dole,” comments Kelly. “And throughout the years, just like in Wilmington, Dole has been one of the port’s largest customers.”
Logistically, the Port of Gulfport has been one of the major ports of entry for bananas into central North America, with its favorable shipping and trucking lanes. Prior to utilizing Gulfport, Dole shipped its perishables via the Port of New Orleans.
“The two main reasons why Dole came to Gulfport, and why we are still here, are the labor pool availability and transportation resources that Mississippi affords,” says John Pischiottano, Terminal Manager for Dole’s Gulfport facility.
Dole’s Gulfport facility is situated close to Interstates 10 and 55, which provides convenient trucking access to and from its port location. Highway access has provided a more effective means of transporting goods to markets, compared to its former location in New Orleans, where most transportation was by rail. Today, Dole no longer uses railroads to transport its goods.
“Historically the banana trade has been fully utilizing trucking since the interstate highways system have been in place (since the early 1970s), with very little exception to some intermobile on the West Coast,” Kelly explains. “Trucks gave Dole the flexibility and efficiency we needed.”

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American Journal of Transportation