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Dole expands Port of Wilmington service

Katie Tabeling
The Port of Wilmington Enstructure Gulftainer

Dole has expanded its shipping service to the Port of Wilmington, growing its presence in the First State. | DBT FILE PHOTO

WILMINGTON — Dole Food Company has added a second vessel service to the Port of Wilmington, growing its capacity of shipping tropical fruits from bananas, pineapples, dragon fruit, mangoes and limes coming to the United States.

The new weekly service includes two shipping container vessels — MV Robin-2  and MV Robin-5 — in a 14-day rotation, with a vessel making a stop at the Port of Wilmington each Saturday. Weekly port stops include Columbia, Honduras and a new port stop in Guatemala before arriving in the First State.

Dole expanded cargo service started on Dec. 31.

“With Enstructure’s support, we’re proud to expand a second service to Port Wilmington,” Dole Fresh Fruit North America President Nelson Montoya said in a press statement. “This added service is expected to make our high-quality, fresh produce more accessible, which is an essential step toward making the world a healthier place.”

In 2013, Dole solidified its ties to the First State by renewing its lease for 15 years with two optional 10-year extensions until 2048. That agreement also outlined port commitments to increase the number of cranes and “other upgrades to the Dole leasehold,” according to press releases issued at the time. 

The port ranks among the top gateways for fruit and juice concentrates, with a 850,000-square-foot on-dock refrigerated warehouse complex. It is also a chief banana port in North America, with Dole Food Company and Chiquita Fresh North America bringing cargo weekly. Chiquita also signed a similar lease with options to renew up to 2029.

The Port of Wilmington handled nearly 1.5 million tons of bananas and plantains in 2018, according to industry news website Supply Chain Drive.

Boston-based Enstructure was named the Wilmington port operator last summer, after state officials were disappointed with the results of its agreement with Gulftainer subsidiary GT USA Wilmington.

In particular, GT USA Wilmington had failed to advance the planned container port at Edgemoor. The company was required to spend $250 million on the project by 2020, which did not materialize due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Terms of the deal outlined by state officials and Enstructure have the new port operator to make a one-time payment of $21.5 million to move Edgemoor forward. Gov. John Carney has committed $50 million to the project as well.

Estructure Co-CEOs Matthew Satnick and Philippe De Montigny celebrated Dole’s continued partnership with the port, pointing that it would help lift Port Wilmington to new heights.

Dole has been a key partner at Port Wilmington for over 40 years and we are excited to support their continued growth in the Mid-Atlantic,” Satnick and De Montigny said in a prepared statement. “Since taking over Port Wilmington operations, we have appreciated Dole’s collaborative approach to growth and commitment to operational excellence at the Port. Dole’s new weekly service will support continued investment in the Port’s infrastructure while bolstering our local workforce.”


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