Dole Food supplies fresh fruits and vegetables, packaged foods and juices to almost every supermarket in the country. The scope of its coverage is enormous: Dole, taken private in 2003, sources from 90 countries around the world and posted $6.2 billion in revenue in 2006.
A company of this size can have a tremendous impact on health and wellness, and Dole excels as a leader. David Murdock, the company's 84-year-old owner, is single-minded in his drive to get Americans to eat more healthfully.
“It's his mission, and he's directed the company to go that way,” said Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications. “He's also made it clear to the company that this is the right thing to do.”
Well before “whole health” became a buzzword, Murdock was busy putting words into practice. The company was a founding member of the 5 A Day campaign in 1991, and has since developed Dole SuperKids, a more modern program that includes dietary lessons for minority children and more information for parents. About 6 years ago, the company opened the Dole Nutrition Institute.
“It covers everything from partnering with universities, to researching phytochemicals, to trying to maximize the nutritional benefits of our own products,” said Ordman.
Employees themselves are subject to Murdock's devotion. Corporate dining was overhauled with meatless meals and health food vending machines, and workers were encouraged to participate in lunch-hour walking clubs or after-work Pilates classes. Each member of an employee control group lost an average of 7 pounds within 90 days after the changes were implemented, according to Ordman.
“And now, after a couple of years of data, we've seen that our [health insurance] claims have gone down,” he said.
Most recently, Murdock extended his vision to include projects that, while not directly connected to Dole, further reflect the company's overall commitment to health. Late last year, the California Wellbeing Institute opened across the street from Dole's corporate campus. Murdock is also financing construction of a huge biotech center in North Carolina.