(May 12) Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Monterey, Calif., plans to test plastic pallets from Orlando, Fla.-based iGPS Co. LLC, starting in mid-May.

Robert Engle, Dole’s vice president of supply chain, said the company will be shipping broccoli and cauliflower on the plastic pallets to more than 20 retail customers representing thousands of store locations.

“We find the pallets to be extremely durable,” Engle said. “The rate of acceptance in the marketplace is growing daily. It’s a great pallet in terms of sustainability and longevity.”

Launched in 2006, iGPS pallets are recyclable, fire-retardant, weigh 30% less than traditional wood pallets and are embedded with radio frequency identification tags, the company said in a news release. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Engle said a 30- to 60-day test will ensure that Dole’s systems can track, trace and report on the RFID equipped pallets. If the test is successful, he said, the plastic pallets would be expanded to Dole’s entire vegetable commodity segment.

He said a determination about value-added products would not be made until after the commodity segment had been changed over to plastic pallets and evaluated.

The test does not involve Dole Fresh Fruit Co., Westlake Village, Calif.

Engle left Dole last year to become chief operating officer for Eurofresh Farms, Willcox, Ariz. However, he returned to Dole a few months later.

Dole Fresh Vegetables has overhauled its senior management in recent months with Ray De Riggi succeeding Eric Schwartz as president and recruiting two of his former ConAgra Foods colleagues — Frank Davis and Roger Billingsley — as senior vice presidents.

“They’re really pushing to improve the business,” Engle said. “They’re putting a lot of money into the division. I saw things were changing, and it was a good time to come back.”