Dole Philippines opens new $20M plant in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 June) – Giant fruit producer Dole Philippines, Inc. has opened a new production facility worth US$20 million that could generate 1,500 additional jobs, officials said Wednesday.

Randolph Fleming, Dole Philippines vice president and managing director, said the new plant is the firm’s largest single investment that could process 250,000 tons of processed fruit annually.

The facility officially opened in Surallah town, South Cotabato over the weekend to service at least 3,000 hectares of pineapple plantation.

Fleming said the new plant can double its capacity and will “Surallah on the map as a major producer of pineapples.”

Dole Philippines maintains its major production plant in Polomolok, South Cotabato, which was put up in the 1960s.

Dole Philippines, which was acquired by Itochu Corp of Japan in 2013, has pineapple plantations in at least 13,000 hectares in the province through lease agreements. This is the largest pineapple plantation of parent Dole Asia Holdings in Asia.

Fleming thanked Surallah town Mayor Antonio Bendita and other local officials for supporting the firm’s expansion in the locality.

“Dole Thailand closed one plant to give way to this project,” Fleming noted.

Shawn Warren, president of Asia Packaged Foods at Dole Asia Holdings, said that Dole products are built on “quality, quality and quality” to meet the demands of consumers around the world.

“The growth of the business is what we celebrate today. Surallah and Polomolok will be the jewel in the crown as they bring growth in the community. This brings a tremendous breakthrough in the growth of Dole,” he said during the launching of the new facility.

Danko Stambuk, Dole Philippines senior vice president for worldwide manufacturing and business development, lauded the people of South Cotabato for warmly accepting the company.

“It’s nice to be here in South Cotabato. I arrived in South Cotabato 21 years ago to learn how to plant pineapple. Dole Philippines envisioned this 20 years ago and am glad to say that you exceed what we are asking you,” he said.

Stambuk noted that Dole started in South Cotabato 54 years ago, describing the province as having a “nice climate and good people.”

South Cotabato Governor Daisy Avance Fuentes lauded the company for its contribution to the province’s economy.

“Dole Philippines, about a decade ago, promised 15,000 jobs but generated double,” she said.

Ibrahim Guiamadel, Department of Trade and Industry Region 12 director, relayed Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez’s congratulatory message to the company.

“This event reflects the continued confidence of Dole in investing in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao. The certainty and conviction of Dole to invest in Mindanao is a testament to the country’s sound macro-economic fundamentals, sustained investor confidence and good governance, which bode well for the agency’s thrust to strengthen the country’s position as preferred global investment destination,” Lopez said in his message.

“Dole’s investment in the ‘Land of Promise’ because of its impressive tropical rainforest, fertile valleys and great biodiversity is concrete proof that Mindanao is the investment location of choice for agri-business venture,” Lopez added. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)