Company delivers record first quarter 2001 earnings
  • Net income increases seven percent quarter-over-quarter
  • Operating income increases 21 percent quarter-over-quarter

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE:FDP), one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce, yesterday released record financial results for the first quarter ended March 30, 2001.

Net income rose seven percent to $41.1 million, or $0.76 per share, compared with net income of $38.5 million, or $0.72 per share in the first quarter of 2000. This increase primarily reflects Fresh Del Monte's growing success with its diversified fresh produce line, specifically pineapples, melons and deciduous fruit, along with continued improvements in operating efficiencies and cost-saving efforts throughout the Company.

Operating income for the first quarter rose 21 percent to $60.2 million, compared with $49.6 million in the first quarter of 2000. This substantial improvement in operating income is evidence of increased volumes and higher pricing in the Company's diversified fresh produce line and continued cost-saving initiatives.

Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "Our outstanding first quarter performance indicates that our business has undergone a fundamental shift. We have often spoken of our desire to make our business more predictable and less predicated on the trials and tribulations of the banana market. Our quarterly results demonstrate that our concerted efforts to diversify our product line have been successful, and that we are now well positioned to receive the benefits of the careful strategic planning and implementation in which we have diligently engaged since 1997."

Net sales for the first quarter of 2001 were $534.3 million, compared with $536.1 million for the same period last year. The expected decrease in net sales is the result of a planned reduction in banana volume in Eastern Europe, partially offset by solid growth in other fresh fruit and vegetables.

Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh added, "Fresh Del Monte has been adding value and assets continuously and creating greater growth opportunities for our business. This record first quarter performance is a true testament to the success of our strategy, as well as our sharp focus on operations and the hard work of our entire management team."

Fresh Del Monte is one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce. The Company grows, distributes, transports and markets its fresh products to more than 50 countries worldwide.

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements regarding the intents, beliefs or current expectations of the Company or its officers with respect to various matters. These forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to the Company and the Company assumes no obligation to update these statements. It is important to note that these forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties. The Company's actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including those described under the caption "Key Information - Risk Factors" in Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.'s Form 20-F for the year ended December 29, 2000.

This release and other press releases are available on the Company's web site www.freshdelmonte.com.

             Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. and Subsidiaries
                    Condensed Statements of Income
                               Unaudited
           (U.S. dollars in millions, except per share data)


                                              Quarter ended
                                          March 30,       March 31,
                                            2001            2000                                       2000
                                            ----            ----

        Net sales                          $534.3          $536.1

        Gross profit                         84.0            71.3

        Operating income                     60.2            49.6

        Net income                         $ 41.1          $ 38.5

        Basic and diluted per share income $ 0.76          $ 0.72

        Weighted average number of
         ordinary shares
          outstanding-diluted          53,763,600      53,766,731