Dole Philippines, Inc. – Stanfilco Division is acclaimed as the forerunner of the banana industry in the Philippines. Stanfilco produces Cavendish bananas mainly for export to various markets in the world like Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Middle East and New Zealand. It boasts of capability to produce a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables.
In 2017, the company steered towards of channeling most of its resources into improving production of its flagship bananas and other high-value products like avocados and papayas to cater to the growing demand of consumers across Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East.
Stanfilco traces its earliest beginnings to 1899 under Vaccaro Brothers and Company. When it added shipping to its banana importing business, it consequently changed its business name to Standard Fruit and Steamship Company.
In October 1964, Standard Fruit sold 55% of its interest to Castle and Cooke, Inc., owner of the Dole label and known the world over as producer of pineapple products. Four years later, Castle & Cooke, Inc., now known as Dole Food Company, Inc., bought 100% of Standard Fruit's shares. Consequently, the label of exported fruits was changed from "Cabana" to "Dole" bananas.
In 2012, Tokyo-based ITOCHU Corporation bought the Asia fresh business to include Stanfilco and the worldwide packaged foods enterprise of California-based Dole Food Company.
Stanfilco in the Philippines
It was in July 1966 when Standard (Philippines) Fruit Corporation was chartered by the government to engage in the export of bananas.
On Sept. 2, 1966, M/V Benny Skou arrived at the port of Gen. Santos City in South Cotabato with 176,000 Giant Cavendish banana seeds selected from plantations of Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. in South America.
On Sept. 6, 1966, planting of seeds began on 73 hectares of land, which formed first ever nursery of the banana project in the country.
In August 1967, the seeds were distributed to participating farms in Gen. Santos City for commercial planting. This event also marked the birth of the banana industry in the Philippines.
The company made a maiden shipment of 4,138 boxes of fresh Cavendish bananas from the port of Gen. Santos City to Japan on Nov. 2, 1968. From then on, the company made Nov. 2, 1968 as a reference date for Stanfilco’s anniversary celebration, giving honor to the triumphant people who toiled to make the first banana shipment from the Philippines a success.
Stanfilco's fresh banana exports reached a total of 29,755 boxes at the end of 1968.
To help nurse Stanfilco's early operations, outside technical expertise was called in, combining efforts with regularly employed technicians. New roads were opened and a whole network of canals was carved through rows and rows of new banana plantings. The existing drainage system was also improved to prevent clogging and overflowing during the rainy season.
From General Santos in South Cotabato, Stanfilco expanded its operation to Davao del Norte in 1969. An initial 81 hectares in Manay and in Mabuhay, Panabo, Davao del Norte were planted. Reaping success in its new venture in North Davao, 700 hectares more were planted in nearby municipalities a year later.
Between 1969 to 1975, along with the birth of several other banana companies in Mindanao, banana export from the Philippines increased by a staggering 500 percent every year--generating thousands of jobs in rural areas while significantly helping the government in community development.
This impressive growth rate elevated Cavendish bananas to the 6th slot in the country’s top 10 exports.
On its 10th year in export business in 1978, Stanfilco enjoyed phenomenal growth as a trailblazer in Philippine Banana Industry, generating close to PhP 44 million in taxes for the government.
In 1982, the corporate identity of Standard (Philippines) Fruit Corporation was dissolved to become part of Dole Philippines, Inc.
During the last seven years, Stanfilco poured investments to expand operation in Bukidnon and in North Cotabato provinces thus continuing its partnership with the stakeholders in Mindanao through dedicated community-oriented services and employment generation.
By expanding to other parts of Mindanao, Stanfilco has successfully spread investments across Mindanao, giving jobs, direct and indirect, to more than 20,000 people.
At present, it now produces around 40 million boxes of 13-kg. fresh bananas annually.
Its strategy on community development is envisioned primarily to uplift the socio-economic conditions of people living in a peaceful and ecologically-balanced environment.