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The Dole-Chiquita banana showdown


The big news in the produce industry last week was the acquisition of Dole’s BB #:124463 fresh vegetables unit by ChiquitaBrands International BB #:138475 subsidiary Fresh Express. Dole plc sells fresh vegetables division to Fresh Express – Produce Blue Book

There is, of course, a great deal of speculation on the impact this move will have on the produce industry as a whole, although so far, the speculation has been—well, speculative.

It turns out that there has been some discussion on the Quora question-and-answer website of this question: “Is there a discernible taste difference between Dole and Chiquita bananas?”

The verdict of respondents: yes, and Dole wins.

“i much prefer Dole and go out of my way to purchase this grower’s product,” writes Jan Malone.

“Chiquita bananas leave a film on my teeth and an aftertaste that is not pleasant. It hasn’t always been that way,” writes Harriet Meaders. “Dole bananas are tastier and do not leave this awful residue in my mouth so I only purchase Dole. If not available, I buy other fruit.”

Alex Z. Wynn reports that he did some research on this matter in 2010 after a dispute with a colleague about the two brands.

Wynn’s colleague “had purchased really crappy Chiquita bananas while I brought to the office a beautiful Dole banana,” Wynn writes. “Big difference, but he did not believe me. He thought I had eaten one of his bananas, but he was wrong because I could tell the difference and he didn’t think it was possible.”

Wynn did his own research over a 4-week period. He calls it a “double-blind test,” although, if you want to get technical, it was a single-blind one.

“I ate 20 bananas of each category totaling 200 bananas in total. (That’s right, I ate 40 brown bananas in a 4 week span),” Wynn reports.

“Of the 200 bananas I preferred Dole to Chiquita 102 times, I was indifferent 76 times and 22 times I preferred Chiquita to Dole,” he continues.

“Of the 22 times I preferred Chiquita to Dole, 17 of those times were very unripe and 5 were unripe.

When ripe, I preferred Dole to Chiquita only 5 times and was indifferent 13 times.

Everyone has their own preference but DOLE FOR THE WIN!!!”

Luis Baez may not be fully informed when he writes: “I hate Dole bananas they are genetically modified and have pesticides on them. Chiquita are organic. But they might just be genetically modified. Dole is brittle and dry. Even when ripe and brown spotted I have to spit dole out in the trash. I just can’t eat Dole. I like Chiquita. They are grown in Ecuador.” Baez prefers a little-known brand called Burro Bananas, which, he says, are difficult to find.

This segment of Quora readers is unlikely to be pleased by the new acquisition.

Such snapshots of consumer sentiment don’t replace elaborate and costly marketing studies, but they can cast some informative sidelights on them.

Opinions expressed above do not necessarily reflect those of this author.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.