Castle & Cooke Gains Full Ownership of Standard Fruit

Castle & Cooke acquires 100% of Standard Fruit, the second largest producer and importer of bananas.

Now named Dole Food Company, Standard Fruit Company was established in 1924 by The Vaccaro Brothers. Its forerunner was started in 1899, when Sicilian immigrants Joseph, Luca and Felix Vaccaro, together with Salvador D'Antoni, began importing bananas to New Orleans from La Ceiba, Honduras. By 1915 the business had grown so large that it bought most of the ice factories in New Orleans, in order to refrigerate its banana ships, leading to its president Joseph Vaccaro becoming known as the "Ice King".

Along with the United Fruit Company, Standard Fruit played a significant role in the governments of Honduras and other Central American countries, which became known as "banana republics" because of the highly favorable treatment the fruit companies were given.

In 1926 the company changed its name from Standard Fruit Company to Standard Fruit & Steamship Company. Between 1964 and 1968 the company was acquired by the Castle & Cooke Corporation, which also acquired James Dole's Hawaiian Pineapple Company (HAPCO) around the same time. In 1991, Castle & Cooke was renamed Dole Food Company. Castle & Cooke Inc, a real estate company, was spun off in 1995 and is now separately listed.

Castle & Cooke, Inc. is a Los Angeles-based company that was once part of the Big Five companies in territorial Hawaii. The company at one time did most of its business in agriculture. Today, however, most of the company's business is in real estate and residential, commercial, and retail development

Castle & Cooke was founded as a partnership between Samuel Northrup Castle and Amos Starr Cooke as a department store that sold farm tools, sewing equipment, and medicine. Over the next few decades, the company invested heavily in Hawaii's surging sugar industry, running plantations in Kohala and Haiku. The company incorporated in 1894. In the 1910s, the company invested in Matson Navigation Company along with three other Big Five companies. In 1931, the company also bought a 21 percent share of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company, which was later renamed the Dole Food Company. Castle & Cooke bought out Dole in 1961.

Between 1964 and 1968, Castle & Cooke acquired the Standard Fruit Company, adding bananas and other tropical fruits to its existing pineapple operations.

The company maintained Dole's large pineapple plantations throughout the state, including a particularly large one on the island of Lanai, where Castle & Cooke owned about 95 percent of the island.

In the decades that followed, Castle & Cooke began to face severe financial trouble as Hawaii's agriculture industry weakened. In 1985, the company merged with the Flexi-Van Corporation, a transportation leasing company. In 1991, the company was renamed Dole Food Company.

In 1995, the real estate operations of The Dole Food Company were spun off as the newly reformed company Castle & Cooke. The new Castle & Cooke was bought by Dole CEO, David H. Murdock, who remains the CEO of Castle & Cooke today.