Dole is acclaimed as the forerunner of the banana industry in the Philippines. Dole produces mainly Cavendish bananas for export to various markets in the world such as Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Middle East and New Zealand.
Dole also produces other high-value products like avocados and papayas to cater to the growing demand of consumers across Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East.
The banana operations of Dole trace its earliest beginnings to 1899 under Vaccaro Brothers and Company. When it added shipping to its banana importing business, it consequently changed its name to Standard Fruit & 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.
It was in July 1966 when Standard (Philippines) Fruit Corporation was chartered by the government to engage in the production and export of bananas.
On Sept. 2, 1966, M/V Benny Skou arrived at the port of General Santos City in South Cotabato with 176,000 Giant Cavendish banana seeds selected from plantations of Standard Fruit & Steamship Co. in Central America.
On Sept. 6, 1966, planting of seeds began on 73 hectares of land, which formed the first ever nursery of the banana project in the country.
In August 1967, the seeds were distributed to participating farms in General Santos City for commercial planting. This event also marked the birth of the banana industry in the Philippines.
Dole made a maiden shipment of 4,138 boxes of fresh Cavendish bananas from the port of General Santos City to Japan on November 2, 1968. From then on, the company made November 2, 1968 the reference date for its anniversary celebration of commercial banana production, giving honor to the triumphant people who toiled to make the first banana shipment from the Philippines a success.
Dole’s fresh banana exports reached a total of 29,755 boxes at the end of 1968.
To help nurse Dole’s early banana operations, outside technical expertise was called in, combining efforts with regularly employed technicians. New roads were opened and a whole network of canals were 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.
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.
During the last seven years, Dole expanded its banana operation in the Bukidnon and North Cotabato provinces and is continuing its partnership with the stakeholders in Mindanao through dedicated community-oriented services and employment generation.
By expanding to other parts of Mindanao, Dole has successfully spread investments across Mindanao, giving jobs, direct and indirect, to a significant number of people.