Chiquita's Fresh Express purchases Dole's fresh vegetables division
Dole plc announced that certain of its subsidiaries have entered into a definitive agreement to sell the Dole Fresh Vegetables Division to an affiliate of Fresh Express Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Chiquita Holdings Ltd., for gross proceeds of approximately $293 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments.
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. In the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2021, the Fresh Vegetables Division reported revenue of $1.28 billion. The business has agricultural operations and four processing plants across the United States and employs more than 3,000 people.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and the parties expect that the transaction will close after approval is obtained, subject to customary closing conditions.
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," said Carl McCann, executive chairman of Dole plc. "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. 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.”
“We are excited about the combination with Dole’s Fresh Vegetables Division," said Jose Luis Cutrale Jr., Chiquita Holdings’ chairman. "With this transaction, we want to combine our best practices across food safety, freshness of produce, mechanisation, 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.
"The combination of both businesses, when consummated, will allow us to continue to create the best products under the Fresh Express umbrella," said Cutrale. "The anticipated cost savings from this combination will help partially mitigate the recent period of inflationary pressures experienced throughout the produce, food and beverage sectors of the economy. 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. At the same time, we are striving to constantly reduce the carbon footprint of our products."