(March 3) Three new bagged salads from Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Salinas, Calif., were to make their first shipments to customers nationwide March 6.

The Spring Garden salad kit, the latest in Dole’s Selections of the Season line, contains baby lettuces, shredded carrots, toasted almonds and a proprietary raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The 6.5-ounce bag retails for $3.69.

After the success of Dole’s Fall Harvest salad, president Eric Schwartz said he expects the spring counterpart to do well.

He’s not sure the company will taper production of its fall seasonal salad because of its popularity.

“It’s doing extremely well,” Schwartz said. “There’s a good possibility we’ll be supplying Fall Harvest in the spring.”

The company is developing its summer salad, he added.

A package of sweet baby lettuces in the company’s Fresh Discoveries line also launched in early March. The 5-ounce bag with a suggested retail price of $2.99 includes baby red and green romaine and baby leaf lettuces.

It’s designed to attract a new audience and reach current customers looking for variety, Schwartz said.

A bacon lettuce tossed salad kit in Dole’s Fresh Favorites line comes with romaine and iceberg lettuce, real bacon bits, croutons and a proprietary bacon ranch dressing. A 12.5-ounce bag is suggested to retail at $3.69.

“People like bacon, and we want to offer a healthy product, so there’s the tease to get someone who isn’t sure about this category to give it a try,” he said.

PLANT MANAGER

Meanwhile, Dole is making progress on its new processing plant in Bessemer City, N.C., and has hired James Diehl as plant manager.

The 280,000-square-foot plant, mainly intended to serve the Southeast market, has an official opening scheduled for Dec. 31, Schwartz said.

Diehl, who started Feb. 1 with Dole, hails from Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., where he worked for more than 25 years in facility management. He will spend time at other Dole facilities until April or May, when he’ll move to the North Carolina plant with the first job of hiring his direct staff.

The facility will initially house six processing lines, but it is designed to hold 26, Schwartz said. An expansion of another 70,000 square feet is planned within the next five or six years, he said.