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All our fruit from the farm straight to your local supermarket. The farm code tells you which farm produced the fruit you are eating. Just enter the 3- or 5-digit code to find out where your fruit came from and learn about the country and the people who grew and picked it!

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In the Same Boat

In the Same Boat
Strict company protocols are followed on all of our ships, including on-board quarantine for new joiners, in order to keep the crews safe and the vessels in service.

Honoring the Essential Workers at Sea

In the past two years, our understanding of what it means to be an “essential worker” has expanded significantly. From package delivery workers to grocery store cashiers, there are countless unsung heroes who continued to work during the global COVID-19 pandemic so the rest of us had access to goods and services. 

One group of workers has endured a unique level of isolation and stress, yet their plight has gone relatively unnoticed during the pandemic: Ships crews. 

“Our shipping did not stop during COVID, because our crews didn’t either,” said David Cairns, Dole’s Vice President of Fleet Operations. “Our crew members have had anything but a normal time, but their plight was largely invisible to the world.”

More than 80 percent of global trade by volume is transported by ships, and we here at Dole depend on shipping as a key element of our supply chain to safely deliver our bananas and pineapples worldwide. But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, airlines stopped flying and most governments locked down their borders, blocked shore leave and closed offices and embassies that processed the documents crew members needed to rejoin their ships and relieve their colleagues

Indeed, Dole’s crew members were stuck on board for months waiting to get home, while others were stuck at home unable to rejoin. One of our ships scheduled for drydock, Tropical Sky, recently spent 17 days at a quarantine anchorage at Shanghai, at risk of running out of fresh water and fuel. The ship was finally allowed to enter the shipyard after negative PCR tests had been obtained from all on board, but still the crew were not allowed off the vessel at all during the three week stay in the port.

By December 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimated that 400,000 shipping workers were stranded on ships. A similar number were unable to board ships and earn their expected pay, which put their families in jeopardy. 


Caring for our People

Even in typical circumstances, working on a commercial vessel has its challenges. Crew members leave their families for 4 to 6 month stretches, with limited opportunities for shore leave. The work involved in maintaining a complex ship, while ensuring delicate produce is delivered on time and in the best possible condition, never stops for the crew. 

With seafarers traditionally only earning money while they are on board the shipsthe pandemic took an enormous economic toll on seafarers and their families.  Dole stepped in to support our team with relief payments for those not able to return to sea. We also helped hundreds of crew members find flights and navigate the logistics of travel. Vaccines are not yet available to seafarers in many countries but in the US at least, we have been able to work with terminal and port officials to vaccinate many of our crew members serving on the US trading vessels. 

“Our crew members are part of the Dole team and they know we are doing everything possible to keep them safe and help their families should any problems occur at home,” Cairns said.

Dole owns a fleet of 13 vessels, and our Operations and Vessel Management Department habuilt strong relationships with our capable crew members. We enjoy a high retention rate, with an average tenure rate of 8-14 years, and some ship masters serving with Dole for 20 years or more. 

The majority of our seafarers hail from India and the Philippines, countries hit especially hard by COVID-19. Though many crew members were unable to return home as expected, they were always able to keep in touch with loved ones via email and satellite phone calls while at sea. In ports, strict company protocols were followed on all of our ships, including on-board quarantine for new joiners, in order to keep the crews safe and the vessels in service.

While many product deliveries from overseas were significantly delayed by the pandemic and resulting shipping challenges, our customers still received fresh produce on time. Thanks to the  dedication of our ships crews, we continued to transport our nutritious products in a timely and efficient manner. 

Grateful as we are that our product deliveries were reliable, our priority continues to be focused on protecting our crews and working with local governments and international organizations to prioritize the needs of seafarers as key personnel of global trade. In so many ways, the pandemic has revealed how interdependent we are on each other and how we must work together to ensure the success of our supply chain and the essential workers who keep it going. That’s why we are committed to positively influencing the lives of those who work for us. It’s the Dole Way.  


Published August 1 2021

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