David DeLorenzo is a new addition to this year’s Power 50 list, but he’s hardly a newcomer to the international produce industry. After serving in positions including chief operating officer, vice chairman, and president at the Dole Food Company, DeLorenzo was appointed president and chief executive officer of the world’s largest producer and marketer of fresh fruits and vegetables in June 2007.
And, despite myriad challenges to the global economy, DeLorenzo led Dole to an excellent year in 2008. Revenues were up 12%, to $7.6 billion, and the company’s EBITDA rose 32% compared with 2007, reaching $409 million. And, by selling non-core assets such as the company’s Fresh Flowers division, Dole also slashed its debt.
“To meet the challenges of escalating oil and commodity costs, we made a concerted effort to reduce our controllable costs through increased productivity and efficiencies,” DeLorenzo told SN. “We worked with our customers and suppliers to reduce inventories, simplify packaging, and reduce SKU’s, while at the same time increasing our marketing and promotional spend on our core products to help increase movement. To respond to the worldwide credit crunch, we were fortunate to be able to sell a number of non-core or idle assets that have helped us to fairly dramatically reduce our debt.”
DeLorenzo, who will soon celebrate his 40th anniversary with Dole, said that awareness of the nutritional benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has grown exponentially during his years in the produce business.
“It is disappointing, however, that despite the continued scientific reinforcement of the importance of fruits and vegetables that per capita consumption has not increased more than it has.”
As a pioneer of the packaged salad business, the fruit cup category and many other innovations, Dole has helped increase consumption of fresh produce throughout the U.S. Dole has been a leader in nutrition education with programs like the Dole Nutrition Institute, and a leader in nutrition research as well.
“Our chairman, Mr. David Murdock, has invested very heavily in the North Carolina Research Campus for better nutrition and longevity. We expect that the continuing discoveries that are forthcoming from the campus will begin to leapfrog science in its understanding of the nutritional complexity of fruits and vegetables.”
— Matthew Enis