US-based producer and marketer of fruit and fresh vegetables Dole Food has reported that its loss from continuing operations for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2011 narrowed to $2m, compared to $31m year-on-year.

The company says this can be attributed to its cost-reduction programmes, which offset lower revenues in its fresh-fruit segment, its major top-line contributor. Net revenue for the fourth quarter decreased 1.4% to $1.53bn, compared to $1.55bn in 2010.

Adjusted EBIDTA increased 70% to $53m, compared to $31m in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.

Dole Food president and CEO David A DeLorenzo said the adjusted EBITDA of $53m in the quarter was a 70% improvement over the previous year, due to solid performances in each of the company’s operating segments.

"The cost reduction programs set forth in the past two years have helped improve earnings despite increasing input costs and the strength of foreign currencies," DeLorenzo added.

Segment wise, fresh fruit sales declined 3.6% to $1.02bn, while sales climbed 3.9% to $216m in fresh vegetables and 3.2% to $294m in packaged foods.

For the full financial year of 2011, the company’s income from continuing operations was $121m, up from $40m in 2010. Net revenue increased 5% to $7.2bn, as higher sales were reported in each of the company’s operating segments.

The company’s fresh fruit segment revenue increased 5% to $5bn, due to improved local pricing of bananas worldwide and higher banana sales in North America and Asia. Packaged foods revenue climbed 7% $1.2bn, due to higher sales across all leading product lines

Fresh vegetables revenue grew 2% $1bn, due to higher pricing for packaged salads, higher sales of berries following the company’s acquisition of SunnyRidge, a supplier of blueberries and blackberries, which was partially offset by lower sales of fresh-packed vegetables.

Adjusted EBIDTA increased 6% to $386m, compared to $364m in the previous year, as a result of higher earnings in fresh fruit segment and in European ripening and distribution and Chilean deciduous fruit businesses.

The company also announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell its distribution company in Germany, as a part of its plan to divest non-core assets to lower debt and boost operating margins.