- Dole Food Company launched a new shipping service to boost transportation options for mangoes, pineapples and other tropical fresh fruits coming from Central America into the U.S.
- The expanded service, which began Dec. 31, will deploy two 40-foot container vessels in a 14-day rotation. Ships will call on ports in Columbia, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, transporting produce into Delaware's Port of Wilmington.
- Dole Ocean Cargo Express, the company's marine transportation arm, will use the ships in a new service for produce shippers to move fruit between the U.S. and North Central America. The vessels will also carry Dole bananas, pineapples, dragon fruit, mangoes and limes.
After the pandemic sparked vast supply chain issues that snarled shipping networks, companies like Dole and Fresh Del Monte began expanding their in-house transportation options as a new source of revenue.
Dole acquired two ships in 2021, and its cargo service provided a significant revenue boost in the two years following the pandemic. The fleet has also allowed the fruit and vegetable producer to bring down its own supply chain costs and avoid transportation delays.
However, as supply chain issues improve and shipping costs decline, weaker demand is weighing on Dole's bottom line. Decreased commercial cargo activity contributed to earnings declines in the fresh fruit division during the third quarter.
Dole's new service, called the Mayan Express, will provide produce shippers with increased sourcing options and expanded ocean network coverage, according to the announcement.
“Dole is excited to expand our service level into the Northeast, bringing even more fresh tropical fruit to market,” Nelson Montoya, president of Dole fresh fruit North America, said in a statement. “Both existing and future Dole customers can be equally excited at this growth in our service as we continue our journey to make the world a healthier place.”
Fresh Del Monte, which operates its own ocean logistics business called Network Express, has also worked to expand shipping options for exporters in recent months. The produce giant signed a lease agreement with Texas' Port Freeport beginning in 2024, with plans to offer weekly service for importers of bananas, pineapples and plantains.