The Diamond State Port Corporation and Dole Food Company have announced today (Wednesday 14 August) that they have reached an agreement in principle which would see Dole continue to use the Port of Wilmington for its cargo over the next 15 years.
The development follows speculation that Dole was considering shifting some of its banana import business across the Delaware River to Paulsboro in New Jersey where a new port is currently under construction.
The agreement in principle reached by both parties remains subject to negotiation of final documentation and approval by the boards of directors of both organisations, according to a press release from Diamond State Port Corporation, the owner and operator of the Port of Wilmington in the US northeast.
If finalised in accordance with the terms, the agreement would govern Dole’s use of the Port of Wilmington for a 15-year term, and would give Dole two options for ten-year extensions.
The agreement in principle includes terms governing Dole’s usage of the Port and commitments by the Port for capital improvements to meet Dole’s needs.
“Dole had other options for its business, but keeping Dole in Wilmington is a priority for the Port and we worked hard to reach terms that would do that,” said Alan Levin, chairperson of the Diamond State Port Corporation. “This is a very competitive industry and our agreement reflects that.”
Dole said it is “pleased” to continue to do business in Delaware for many years to come, with Stuart Jablon, vice-president of operations for Dole Fresh Fruit, explaining that the agreement in principle will enable Dole to remain “competitive” and positions the firm well for future growth.
Gene Bailey, executive director of the Diamond State Port Corporation, also highlighted the importance of Dole’s presence at the Port of Wilmington.
“We are grateful for the support of the Governor and the General Assembly, which has allowed us to make the capital improvements we need to make to keep Dole and remain competitive with ports on the Delaware River and throughout the region,” he noted.
Dole has used the Port of Wilmington since 1982 and is the port’s largest customer.
The multinational uses the facility for imports of its bananas, pineapples, other tropical and deciduous fruit, as well as exports of forest products and general cargo.
Dole currently leases 37.5 acres at the Port of Wilmington and its vessels make approximately 52 vessel calls annually.
Founded in 1923, the Port of Wilmington is the leading gateway for imported perishable cargo in the US, and operates the largest on-dock cold storage complex in North America.
The facility is owned and operated by the Diamond State Port Corporation, a corporation of the State of Delaware.