Dole Food Company, Inc. was founded in Hawaii in 1851 and was incorporated under the laws of Hawaii in 1894. Dole reincorporated as a Delaware corporation in July 2001.
Dole’s principal executive offices are located at One Dole Drive, Westlake Village, California 91362, telephone (818) 879-6600. At January 3, 2009, we had approximately 40,900 full-time permanent employees and 34,900 full-time seasonal or temporary employees, worldwide. Dole is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole markets a growing line of packaged and frozen fruits and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research. Our website address is www.dole.com. Since we have only one stockholder and since our debt securities are not listed or traded on any exchange, we do not make available free of charge, on or through our website, electronically or through paper copies our annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, or any amendments to those reports.
Dole’s operations are described below. For detailed financial information with respect to Dole’s business and its operations, see Dole’s Consolidated Financial Statements and the related Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, which are included in this report.
We are the world’s leading producer of fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, including a growing line of value-added products. Founded in 1851 in Hawaii, we are one of the world’s largest producers of bananas and pineapples, and an industry leader in packaged fruit products, packaged salads and fresh vegetables. Our most significant products hold the number 1 or number 2 positions in their respective markets. For the fiscal year ended January 3, 2009, we generated revenues of more than $7.6 billion and operating income of approximately $275 million. At January 3, 2009 we had total assets of $4.4 billion.
We provide wholesale, retail and institutional customers around the world with high quality food products that bear the DOLE® trademarks. The DOLE brand was introduced in 1933 and is one of the most recognized brands for fresh and packaged produce in the United States, as evidenced by Dole’s 57% unaided consumer brand awareness — almost three times that of Dole’s nearest competitor, according to a major global research company (TNS NFO). We utilize product quality, brand recognition, competitive pricing, food safety, nutrition education, customer service and consumer marketing programs to enhance our position within the food industry. Consumer and institutional recognition of the DOLE trademarks and related brands and the association of these brands with high quality food products contribute significantly to our leading positions in the markets that we serve.
We source or sell nearly 200 products in more than 90 countries. Our fully-integrated operations include sourcing, growing, processing, distributing and marketing our products. Our products are produced both directly on Dole-owned or leased land and in Dole owned factories and through associated producer and independent grower arrangements under which we provide varying degrees of farming, harvesting, packing, storing, shipping and marketing services.
The worldwide fresh produce industry enjoys consistent underlying demand and favorable growth dynamics. In recent years, the market for fresh produce has increased faster than the rate of population growth, supported by ongoing trends including greater consumer demand for healthy, fresh and convenient foods, increased retailer square footage devoted to fresh produce, and greater emphasis on fresh produce as a differentiating factor in attracting customers.
Health-conscious consumers are driving much of the growth in demand for fresh produce. Over the past several decades, the benefits of natural, preservative-free foods have become an increasingly significant element of the public dialogue on health and nutrition. As a result, consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has markedly increased. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consumed an additional 38 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables per capita in 2006 than they did in 1987.
The North American packaged foods industry is experiencing stable growth, driven by consumer demand for convenient, healthy snacking options. FRUIT BOWLS in plastic cups, introduced by Dole in 1998, and other innovative packaging items, such as fruit in plastic jars and pouches, have steadily displaced the canned alternative. These new products have spurred overall growth in the packaged foods category, while the consumption of traditional canned fruit has declined as consumers opt for fresh products and more innovative packaging.
As food retailers compete in a consolidating industry, they have sought to increase profits by focusing on product categories that are growing and on value-added products, which generally have higher margins. Thus, the higher growth and margins of the fresh produce category compared to the average grocery category are attractive to retailers. As a result, some retailers are reducing dry goods sections of the store, in favor of expanding fresh and chilled items. This trend provides Dole with new product and merchandising opportunities for fresh produce and packaged foods, especially for our value-added lines, such as packaged salads, FRUIT BOWLS and fruit in plastic jars. Fully integrated produce companies, such as Dole, are well positioned to meet the needs of large retailers through the delivery of consistent, high-quality produce, reliable service, competitive pricing and innovative products. In addition, these companies, including Dole, have sought to strengthen relationships with leading retailers through value-added services such as banana ripening and distribution, category management, branding initiatives and establishment of long-term supply agreements.
Our competitive strengths have contributed to our strong historical operating performance and should enable us to capitalize on future growth opportunities:
Market Share Leader
Our most significant products hold the number 1 or number 2 positions in their respective markets. We maintain number 1 market share positions in North American bananas, North American iceberg lettuce, celery, cauliflower, and packaged fruit products, including our line of plastic fruit cups called FRUIT BOWLS®, FRUIT BOWLS in Gel, Fruit Parfaits and fruit in plastic jars.
Strong Global Brand
Consumer and institutional recognition of the DOLE trademark and related brands and the association of these brands with high quality food products contribute significantly to our leading positions in the markets that we serve. By implementing a global marketing program, we have made the distinctive red “DOLE” letters and sunburst a familiar symbol of freshness and quality recognized around the world. We actively continue to leverage the DOLE brand through product extensions and new product introductions.
Valuable Asset Base
We are an asset rich company, which provides significant competitive advantages to our operations and value to our investors. In addition to the DOLE trademark, we have an impressive base of tangible assets. We own 131,000 acres of farms and other land holdings, including 26,000 acres of farmland in Oahu, Hawaii and approximately 2,700 acres of peach orchards in California. We own and operate six modern corrugated box manufacturing plants in Latin America and Asia, allowing us to manufacture our own banana and pineapple boxes, as well as extrude 100% of our plastic bag requirements. We have the largest dedicated refrigerated containerized fleet in the world, which includes 14,800 refrigerated containers, 11 owned and 13 chartered vessels. We own over 60 ripening and distribution centers in Europe and Asia. We own and operate over one million square feet of vegetable processing facilities globally. Additionally, our packaged food business processes its product lines in over 1.9 million square feet of owned manufacturing facilities.
Our production, processing, transportation and distribution infrastructure is state-of-the-art, enabling us to efficiently deliver the highest quality and freshest product to our customers. The investments in our infrastructure, including farms, packing houses, box plants, manufacturing facilities and shipping assets, allow for continued growth in the near term. In addition, our market-leading logistics and distribution capabilities allow us to act as a preferred fresh and packaged food provider to leading global supermarkets and mass merchandisers.
Refrigerated Supply Chain Management
One of our strongest core competencies is our ability to produce, transport and deliver high-quality perishable products around the world. Dole quality starts right on the farm, and that quality is preserved and protected in our farm-to-customer refrigerated supply chain. Our worldwide network of cold storage — at the farm, on trucks, in containers, on ships and in our distribution centers in the world’s market places — provides a closed-loop cold storage supply chain that enables the worldwide transport of perishable products and is the key to Dole quality and shelf life.
Low-Cost Production Capabilities
Dole’s valuable asset base enables us to be a low cost producer in many of our major product lines, including bananas, North American fresh vegetables and packaged fruit products. Over the last several years we have undertaken various initiatives to achieve and maintain this low-cost position, including leveraging our global logistics infrastructure more efficiently. We intend to maintain these low-cost positions through a continued focus on operating efficiency.
Diversity of Sourcing Locations
We currently source our fresh fruits and vegetables from 75 countries and distribute products in more than 90 countries. We are not dependent on any one country for the sourcing of our products. The largest concentration of production is in Ecuador, where we sourced approximately 29% of our Latin American bananas in 2008. The diversity of our production sources reduces our risk from exposure to natural disasters and political disruptions in any one particular country.
Strong Management Team
Our management team has a demonstrated history of delivering strong operating results through disciplined execution. Our current management team is led by David A. DeLorenzo, who rejoined Dole as President and Chief Executive Officer in June 2007. Under his guidance, Dole’s net revenues have increased from $6.0 billion in 2006 to $7.6 billion in 2008. Over the same period, operating income has increased from $136 million to $275 million. Our senior management team has a total of 110 years of experience at Dole with an average of over 15 years each.
Key elements of our strategy include:
Continue to Leverage our Strong Brand and Market Leadership Position
Our most significant products hold number 1 or number 2 market positions in their respective markets. We intend to maintain those positions and continue to expand our leadership in new product areas as well as with new customers. We have a history of leveraging our strong brand to successfully enter, and in many cases become the largest player in value-added food categories. We intend to continue to evaluate and strategically introduce other branded products in the value-added sectors of our business.
Focus on Value-Added Products
We will continue to shift our product mix toward value-added food categories while maintaining and building on our key market leadership positions in commodity fruits and vegetables. For example, we have successfully increased our percentage of revenue from value-added products in our fresh vegetables and packaged foods businesses, where our packaged salad lines and FRUIT BOWL and other non-canned products now account for approximately 53% and 58% of those businesses’ respective revenues. Value-added food categories are growing at a faster rate than traditional commodity businesses and typically generate stronger margins. We plan to continue to address the growing demand for convenient and innovative products by investing in our higher margin, value-added food businesses.
Focus on Improving Operating Efficiency and Cash Flow
We intend to continue to focus on profit improvement initiatives and maximizing cash flow by:
Analyzing our current customer base and focusing on profitable relationships with strategically important customers;
Leveraging our purchasing power to reduce our costs of raw materials;
Focusing capital investments to improve productivity; and
Selling non-core assets.
Improve our Strong Grower Network
In addition to owning and operating our own farms, we have developed a unique worldwide network of over 9,000 farmers who proudly produce to our standards. We not only provide technical agronomic assistance to these growers but also provide organizational assistance to small farmers around the world, allowing them to combine their efforts in a cooperative manner to achieve the economies of scale necessary to compete in the world market. We will continue to focus on the strength of our grower network, which we believe provides us with a sustainable competitive advantage.
Promote Education through Dole Nutrition Institute
We seek to play a leading role in nutrition education by promoting the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Given the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption in maintaining a healthy weight, nutrition education is key to addressing the global obesity epidemic. Every day new scientific research reveals ways in which fruits and vegetables help prevent and even reverse disease. Dole is committed to leading the way in expanding the knowledge, growing the foods, and marketing the products that will enable people to lead healthier, more vital lives.
Encourage Corporate Social Responsibility
Our approach to corporate social responsibility includes sustainable agricultural practices, community service, employee wellness, provision of social services and worker safety. Our practices demonstrate how the world’s largest provider of fruits and vegetables leads the industry in respect for the environment, worker education and charitable giving, among other aspects of corporate responsibility.
Dole has established the reduction of its leverage as a key goal. This initiative has two principal dimensions: (1) improving operating results, through leveraging of our strong global brand and market leadership, coupled with a sharp focus on cost reduction and increased operating efficiencies, and (2) paying down debt with the proceeds of asset sales and the increased earnings resulting from improved operating performance. With respect to asset sales, Dole set a goal of selling $200 million in non-core or underperforming assets in 2008, which we have exceeded. During 2008, cash consideration related to our asset sale program totaled approximately $236 million, including sales of land in Hawaii, our fresh-cut flowers headquarters building in Miami, Florida, our citrus and pistachio operations in California, two farms in Chile, a land parcel in Turkey, two older refrigerated ships, a distribution facility in Europe, our JP Fresh and Dole France subsidiaries, and additional acreage located in California.
For 2009, we have set a target of $200 million in asset sales. On January 29, 2009, Dole announced progress on our asset sale program. First, Dole closed the first phase of the sale of our flowers division. With the closing of the first phase, Dole completed the sale of our flowers business and retains only certain real estate of the former flowers division to be sold in the subsequent phases of the transaction. Second, Dole closed on the sale of certain banana properties in Latin America. Third, Dole signed a definitive purchase and sale agreement to sell certain property in North America. The sale closed during March 2009. Dole received net cash proceeds of approximately $83 million from these three transactions. When all phases of the transactions are complete, net proceeds to Dole will be approximately $130 million. The cash proceeds will be used to pay down Dole’s debt under its senior secured credit facilities and/or to reinvest in the business. Pending reinvestment, cash proceeds will be used to pay down Dole’s revolving credit facility.
We have three business segments: fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and packaged foods. The fresh fruit segment contains several operating divisions that produce and market fresh fruit to wholesale, retail and institutional customers worldwide. The fresh vegetables segment contains two operating divisions that produce and market commodity vegetables and packaged vegetables and salads to wholesale, retail and institutional customers, primarily in North America, Europe and Asia. The packaged foods segment contains several operating divisions that produce and market packaged foods including fruit, juices and snack foods. During the second quarter of 2008, we approved and committed to a formal plan to divest our fresh-cut flowers operations, and during the third quarter of 2008 we signed a binding letter of intent to sell these operations. Closing of the first phase of the transaction occurred early in the first quarter of 2009. Accordingly, the results of operations of the fresh-cut flowers segment are reflected as discontinued operations for all periods presented. All of the related assets and liabilities of that segment have been reclassified as held-for-sale.
Our fresh fruit business segment has four primary operating divisions: bananas, European Ripening and Distribution, fresh pineapples and Dole Chile. We believe that we are the industry leader in growing, sourcing, shipping and distributing consistently high-quality fresh fruit. The fresh fruit business segment represented approximately 71% of 2008 consolidated total revenues.
We are one of the world’s largest producers of bananas, growing and selling approximately 165 million boxes of bananas annually. We sell most of our bananas under the DOLE brand. We primarily sell bananas to customers in North America, Europe and Asia. We are the number 1 brand of bananas in both the U.S. (an approximate 36% market share) and Japan (an approximate 31% market share) and the number 2 provider in Europe (an approximate 12% market share). In Latin America, we source our bananas primarily in Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru, growing on approximately 38,800 acres of company-owned farms and over 90,000 acres of independent producers’ farms. We ship our Latin American bananas to North America and Europe in our refrigerated and containerized shipping fleet. In Asia, we source our bananas primarily in the Philippines. Bananas accounted for approximately 41% of our fresh fruit business segment revenues in 2008.
Consistent with our strategy to focus on value-added products, we have continued to expand our focus on higher margin, niche bananas. While the traditional “green” bananas still comprise the majority of our banana sales, we have successfully introduced niche bananas (e.g., organic). We have also improved the profitability of our banana business by focusing on profitable customer relationships and markets.
While bananas are sold year round, there is a seasonal aspect to the banana business. Banana prices and volumes are typically higher in the first and second calendar quarters before the increased competition from summer fruits.
Approximately 90% of our total retail volume in North America is sold under contract. The contracts are typically one year in duration and help to insulate us from fluctuations in the banana spot market. Our principal competitors in the international banana business are Chiquita Brands International, Inc. and Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc.
During the fourth quarter of 2008, we entered into a binding letter of intent to sell certain portions of our Latin American banana operations. The related assets and liabilities from these operations were reclassified to held-for-sale during the fourth quarter of 2008. The net book value of the Latin banana operations that we agreed to sell is approximately $18 million, and the sale closed during the first quarter of 2009.
European Ripening and Distribution
Our European Ripening and Distribution business distributes DOLE and non-DOLE branded fresh produce in Europe. This business operates 23 ripening and distribution centers in eight countries, predominantly in Western Europe. This is a value-added business for us since European retailers generally do not self-distribute or self-ripen. This business assists us in firmly establishing our European customer relationships. In 2008, European Ripening and Distribution accounted for approximately 41% of our fresh fruit business segment’s revenues.
We are the number 2 global marketer of fresh pineapples, growing and selling more than 34 million boxes annually. We source our pineapples primarily from Dole-operated farms and independent growers in Latin America, Hawaii, the Philippines and Thailand. We produce and sell several different varieties, including the sweet yellow pineapple. We introduced the sweet yellow pineapple in 1999, and now market a substantial portion of this fruit under the DOLE TROPICAL GOLD® label. Varieties of pineapple other than the sweet pineapples are also used in our packaged products. Our primary competitor in fresh pineapples is Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. Pineapples accounted for approximately 7% of our fresh fruit business segment’s revenues in 2008.
We began our Chilean operations in 1982 and we are the largest exporter of Chilean fruit. We export grapes, apples, pears, stone fruit (e.g., peaches and plums) and kiwifruit from approximately 1,900 Dole-owned or -leased acres and 12,300 contracted acres. The weather and geographic features of Chile are similar to those of the Western United States, with opposite seasons. Accordingly, Chile’s harvest is counter-seasonal to that in the northern hemisphere, offsetting the seasonality in our other fresh fruit. We primarily export Chilean fruit to North America, Latin America and Europe. Our Dole Chile business division accounted for approximately 6% of our fresh fruit business segment’s revenues in 2008.
Our fresh vegetables business segment operates through two divisions: commodity vegetables and value-added. We source fresh vegetables from Dole-owned and contracted farms. Our value-added products are produced in state-of-the-art processing facilities in Yuma, Arizona, Soledad, California, Springfield, Ohio and Bessemer City, North Carolina. Under arrangements with independent growers, we purchase fresh produce at the time of harvest and are generally responsible for harvesting, packing and shipping the product to our central cooling and distribution facilities. We pursue a balanced growth strategy between our commodity and value-added divisions. In 2008, the value-added division accounted for 53% of our revenues for this segment. The fresh vegetables business segment accounted for approximately 14% of 2008 consolidated total revenues.
We source, harvest, cool, distribute and market more than 20 different types of fresh and fresh-cut vegetables, including iceberg lettuce, red and green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, brussels sprouts, green onions, asparagus, snow peas and artichokes, as well as fresh strawberries. We sell our commodity products primarily in North America, Asia and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe. In North America, we are the largest supplier of iceberg lettuce, celery and cauliflower, and the third largest producer of strawberries. Our primary competitors in this category include: Tanimura & Antle, Duda, Salyer American and Ocean Mist.
Our value-added vegetable products include packaged salads and packaged fresh-cut vegetables. Our U.S. unit market share of the packaged salads category reported by IRI was approximately 34% for the 2008 fiscal year. New product development continues to drive growth in this area. Our primary competitors in packaged salads include Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (which markets Fresh Express), Ready Pac Produce, Inc. and Taylor Fresh Foods, Inc.
Our packaged foods segment produces canned pineapple, canned pineapple juice, fruit juice concentrate, fruit in plastic cups, jars and pouches and fruit parfaits. Most of our significant packaged food products hold the number 1 branded market position in North America. We remain the market leader in the plastic fruit cup category with six of the top ten items in category. Fruit for our packaged food products is sourced primarily in the Philippines, Thailand, the United States and China and packed primarily in four Asian canneries, two in Thailand and two in the Philippines. We have continued to focus on expanding our product range beyond our traditional canned fruit and juice products. FRUIT BOWL and other non-canned products accounted for approximately 58% of the segment’s 2008 revenues.
The trend towards convenience and healthy snacking has generated strong growth in the plastic fruit cup category — which now significantly exceeds the applesauce cup and shelf-stable gelatin cup categories. In fact, Dole now produces more plastic cups than traditional cans. Our FRUIT BOWLS products, introduced in 1998, have achieved significant market share, as evidenced by our 50% dollar market share in the United States during 2008, as reported by IRI. In 2003, Dole introduced fruit in a 24.5 oz. plastic jar, which has attained a 42% dollar market share in the refrigerated and shelf-stable jar category, and a 74% share in the shelf-stable jar category, as reported by IRI. To keep up with demand, we have made substantial investments in our Asian canneries, significantly increasing our FRUIT BOWLS capacity in the past four years. These investments should ensure our position as an industry innovator and low-cost producer.
In the frozen fruit category, Dole is now the number 1 brand in North America and is positioned for continued growth as the innovation leader. New product introductions include our new WILDLY NUTRITIOUStm fruit blends, which offer targeted health benefits, as well as our Sliced Strawberries, which drive consumer convenience. The brand is also in the process of transitioning into a new consumer-friendly, easy-open standup bag.
Our packaged foods segment accounted for approximately 15% of 2008 consolidated revenues.
During the fourth quarter of 2007, we approved and committed to a formal plan to divest our citrus and pistachio operations (“Citrus”) located in central California. During March 2008, we entered into an agreement to sell land and other related assets of Citrus. The sale was completed during the third quarter of 2008, and we received net proceeds of $28.1 million. In addition, during the second quarter of 2008, we approved and committed to a formal plan to divest our fresh-cut flowers operations, and during the third quarter of 2008 we signed a binding letter of intent to sell these operations. The first phase of the transaction closed early in the first quarter of 2009.
We have significant product sourcing and related operations in Cameroon, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Ivory Coast, the Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Thailand and the United States. Significant volumes of Dole’s fresh fruit and packaged products are marketed in Canada, Western Europe, Japan and the United States, with lesser volumes marketed in Australia, China, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, and other countries in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America.
The produce that we distribute internationally is transported primarily by 24 owned or leased ocean-going vessels. We ship our tropical fruit in owned or chartered refrigerated vessels. All of our tropical fruit shipments into the North American and core European markets are delivered using pallets or containers. This increases efficiency and minimizes damage to the product from handling. Most of the vessels are equipped with controlled atmosphere technology, to ensure product quality. “Backhauling” services, transporting our own and third-party cargo primarily from North America and Europe to Latin America, reduce net transportation costs. We use vessels that are both owned or operated under long-term leases, as well as vessels chartered under contracts that typically last one year.
Our top 10 customers in 2008 accounted for approximately 30% of total revenues. No one customer accounted for more than 6% of total 2008 revenues. Our customer base is highly diversified, both geographically and in terms of product mix. Each of our segments’ largest customers accounted for no more than approximately 20% of that segment’s revenues. Our largest customers are leading global and regional mass merchandisers and supermarkets in North America, Europe and Asia.
Sales and Marketing
We sell and distribute our fruit and vegetable products through a network of fresh produce operations in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. Some of these operations involve the sourcing, distribution and marketing of fresh fruits and vegetables while others involve only distribution and marketing. We have regional sales organizations dedicated to servicing major retail and wholesale customers. We also use the services of brokers in certain regions, primarily for sales of packaged fruits and packaged salads. Retail customers include large chain stores with which Dole enters into product and service contracts, typically for a one- or two-year term. Wholesale customers include large distributors in North America, Europe and Asia. We use consumer advertising, marketing and trade spending, to promote new items, bolster our exceptional brand awareness and promote nutrition knowledge.