Dole Food Co. has emphasised its commitment to pay down debt as the US fruit company unveiled a US$68m plan to sell some of its operating properties in Latin America.

The company said today (4 August) that it had entered into a number of letters of intent over the proposed transactions, which are expected to close in the third quarter.

During the second quarter, ended 20 June, Dole reduced its net debt by $145m, meaning that the group has cut debt by $480m, or 20%, over the last five quarters.

Dole also revealed that its second-quarter operating income totalled $108m. Cash flow from operations rose to $170m, up from $60m in the comparable period of last year.

“We are very pleased with the excellent results of our second quarter, especially the strong… cash flow we generated from operations.We continue on track to meet or exceed our operational and financial goals for 2009,” president and CEO David DeLorenzo said.