Dole partners with PA Consulting for sustainability transformation

02 March 2021 3 min. read

Dole is working to overhaul its operating model to emphasise sustainability from top to bottom. As Dole’s innovation and transformation partner, PA Consulting has been helping to green the company’s business.

Founded in Hawaii in 1851, but now headquartered in the US, Dole is one of the world's largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables with revenues of approximately $2.5 billion.

As the firm looks to transform its operations to a more sustainable model, Dole has been looking to redefine its purpose. Under Pier Luigi Sigismondi, President at Dole Packaged Foods, the company has looked to repackage itself as a sustainable and easy to access foods group, offering “sunshine for all.”

Dole partners with PA Consulting for sustainability transformation

Realising this vision is easier said than done, however. Beyond simple sound-bites, it requires the wholesale reinvention of every part of a process that starts with the fruit in the fields and ends with consumers wanting to biodegrade or recycle the packaging. In order to help the company manage this landmark transformation, Dole engaged PA Consulting to support its Asian business unit.

President Sigismondi attributes a lot of Dole’s transformational success to its various partnerships, such as with PA Consulting. He recently noted to The CEO Magazine that partners were helping Dole “push the envelope,” from defining purpose to how it markets and brands its offering, “and developing the best in food technology and supply chains” to “leapfrog the way we do business.”

Based on the Japanese philosophy of ‘sampo Yoshi’ – defining a business as ethical only if it benefits the buyer, seller and society – Dole has set its sights high with a promise to contribute to the highest level of sustainable nutrition for one billion people by 2025. This includes a goal is to commit to zero added sugar, zero fruit loss in Dole farms, carbon neutral operations and zero fossil-based plastic.

“It’s a total transformation,” said Wil Schoenmakers, PA’s Global Head of Consumer Products and Manufacturing. “Take pineapples, for example. Changing how they’re harvested and processed means getting more of the best-quality fruit into production, preserving more of its nutritional value and wasting less of it. And changing packaging cuts out plastic and makes the fruit easier to eat. That chimes with what consumers want, and that matters in a really competitive market.”

Indeed, pineapples do feature among the key successes along the way, as PA has helped develop novel production technologies to extract more value from each and every pineapple Dole produces. Working with the client, PA is also developing different product formats and designing new packaging solutions to realise Dole’s ambition to eliminate plastics, while repurposing handheld inspection technology to take the guesswork out of assessing the quality of fruit before picking.

All these changes are interconnected, and each needs its own set of innovative new processes and technologies. According to a release on PA’s website, work on developing and bringing them together is happening at Dole’s facilities in South-East Asia, and at PA’s Global Innovation and Technology Centre in Cambridge, England.

Schoenmakers concluded, “Dole’s transformation encompasses everything from enhancing its employees’ livelihoods to improving sustainability for the planet and giving more consumers access to better nutrition around the world… Having one multidisciplinary team, and the facilities to build and test physical and digital solutions, lets us generate ingenious ideas and iterate through them fast, delivering end-to-end innovation.”