The Story of James Dole and his Pineapple Business

On this day, September 27 in the year 1877, the man considered as “the King of Pineapple” was born in Massachusetts, USA. His name was James Drummond Dole, the founder of Hawaiian Pineapple Company which later became Dole Food Company.

James Dole
James Dole (Credit:

James Dole was the son of a Unitarian minister. He received a degree in agriculture from Harvard University in 1899. A few months after graduation, he moved to Hawaii which was then being governed by his cousin Sanford Dole. He purchased a 64-acre government homestead where he planted pineapples. In 1901, he incorporated the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (HAPCO). After studying how to market his product throughout the American market, he decided to add more land and built a packing plant and cannery. Sales soared after he advertised his canned pineapple in US magazines.

In 1913, James Dole installed a Ginaca machine that could peel and core thirty-five pineapples every minute. This technology allowed him to lower the price of his product which in turn induced more demand. He purchased additional land and by 1923, his company had more than 20,000 hectares of land dedicated to pineapple plantation, producing around 2,038,671 cases, or 43,497,828 cans of pineapples. Due to severe lack of laborers from Hawaii, the company had to import large number of workers especially from Asia.

By the 1930s, HAPCO was responsible for ninety percent of all the canned pineapple produced in the world. At that time, pineapple was the second most important industry in Hawaii. Although James retired from the company in 1948, he continued his search for ways to improve food production especially how they are processed.

In 1958, James Dole died of heart attack. He had 5 children with his wife Belle. At present, Dole Food is an American agricultural multinational corporation with employees of more than 34,000. In Thailand, Dole packs 200,000 tons of fruit per year while Dole Philippines packs 380,000 tons.


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