Fruit, vegetables and cut flowers group Dole Food Company has officially opened its new US$54m, 285,000 square foot fresh vegetables and salad packaging plant in Bessemer City, North Carolina.

The new plant, the company's first in North Carolina, will initially employ around 350 people, but Dole said the workforce at the site could rise to 900 over the next ten years. The facility will package salad greens sourced from around the country for distribution to grocery stores throughout the southeastern US.

"This plant is important to Dole because it will help supply the Southeast with a nutritious, high-quality product," said chairman and CEO David H. Murdock. "It will carry on Dole's commitment to safety and excellence."