The Truth Behind Allegations Against Dole

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California — April 2, 2007 — Dole Food Company has come under criticism that in some country operations the company is in violation of workers’ rights, the freedom to associate and respect for the environment. Dole takes these allegations seriously.

The allegations being leveled against Dole are both misleading and false. The report by Banana Link and others, “Dole, Behind the Smoke Screen,” claims that Dole does not protect the rights of its workers or the environment. These allegations fail to recognize Dole’s strict policies and long track record of leadership on these issues

The following is a detailed response by Dole to these allegations.

Myth: Dole is one of the fruit companies with the worst environmental records. (Page 6)

Fact: Dole is an industry leader in the area of environmental protection, and today is one of largest producers of organic bananas in the world, sourcing organics from farms that total over 6,500 ha.

In the 1970’s, Dole was one of the first fresh produce companies to implement programs aimed at reducing the use of pesticides.
In the early 1990’s, Dole again led the industry by appointing environmental coordinators in each of its production zones, with the main responsibility to ensure that Dole’s environmental policy is upheld.
In 1998, Dole’s division in Costa Rica was the first agricultural company in the world to become certified to ISO 14001, the environmental standard. Today, almost 100% of Dole bananas and pineapples are produced on farms whose environmental management system has been certified to 14001.
Myth: Dole has withdrawn from owning its own farms to shirk from its social responsibilities towards the farm workers. (Page 10)

Fact: Dole is expanding the number of company-owned farms and today owns more land than the company did in 2000. Recent acquisitions include banana farms in Ecuador, a pineapple farm in Costa Rica and two organic banana farms in Colombia.

Myth: Dole has lobbied government to weaken laws controlling aerial spraying of fungicides. (Page 6)

Fact: This claim is false. In fact, Dole has consistently invested heavily in technology that will minimize the company’s environmental footprint – especially as it relates to aerial spraying. For example, the company uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), to ensure that all aerial applications are done in a manner that ensures accuracy and the correct amounts of fungicides are applied. The company is also adopting automated ground-based spraying systems at its farms, which reduce the environmental impact even further.

Myth: Dole supports an anti-union policy in nearly all its plantations. (Page 12)

Fact: Dole adheres to principles developed by the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Conventions, and respects all workers’ rights to organize. Nor does Dole discriminate against workers who wish to join a union. Today, approximately 33% of Dole’s total workforce (permanent and temporary workers, managers, and executives) work under Collective Bargaining Agreements signed with trade unions.

Myth: Dole chose to operate its banana plantations in Costa Rica and Ecuador because these countries have a notoriously low capacity or commitment to enforce their own labor legislation and fundamental labor rights. (Page 12)

Fact: Dole sources bananas from over 20 countries throughout Central and South America, Africa, Asia and the Windward Islands. And no matter where Dole has banana operations, employees are free to join labor unions and participate in collective bargaining through representatives of their own choosing. In all of these countries, Dole respects the local regulations and accepted practices regarding organized labor, and adheres to ILO Conventions.

Myth: Dole pays its workers wages that are too low to cover basic needs. (Page 12)

Fact: This is simply not true, and in many regions, Dole is the sole source of income and opportunity for residents. The company pays its employees wages that are usually much higher than the minimum wage, and also provides legally required social benefits. Additionally, Dole provides other financial, medical, health and wellness services that go above and beyond the letter of the law. In our SA 8000 certified plantations, auditors check that the wages we pay comply with the country’s living wage, which takes into account the workers’ basic needs and discretionary income for their families’ development. The calculation of the living wage usually gives figures higher than the minimum wage.

Myth: Dole provides financial incentives to plantation management associations, who work to influence the plantation worker committees. (Page 13)

Fact: This claim is unsubstantiated and false. Dole abides by the applicable laws of the countries where we operate. All the countries where we grow bananas have ratified the ILO Conventions on Freedom of Association.

Myth: Solidarista associations ensure that the workers elected to the permanent committees are not trade unionists. (Page 13)

Dole Food Company, Inc., with 2008 revenues of $7.6 billion, is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole markets a growing line of packaged foods and frozen fruit and is a produce industry leader in nutrition education and research. For more information on the company’s CSR efforts, please visit

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