Bartonville, Texas-based UniMark Group, a vertically integrated citrus and tropical fruit growing and processing company, announced yesterday [Thursday] the fiscal results for its Q1 ended 31 March 2002.

Q1 net sales fell 31.1% to US$7.1m from US$10.3m in the 2001 quarter. Loss from operations was IS$353,000 in the Q1 2002 versus a loss of US$583,000 in the prior year, an improvement of 39.5%. Net loss for the Q1 2002 amounted to US$367,000, as compared to a net loss of US$1.3m in the Q1 2001.

The company explained that the decrease in net sales was due to "the timing of our production schedule for our citrus products, particularly those for our largest customer, Del Monte Foods, timing differences in shipments to our Japanese customers and in our decision to suspend our juice division's operations and suspend production of frozen orange juice concentrate during the 2001/2002 processing season".

It continued: "Reduction in our net loss in the Q1 2002 compared to the same period a year ago was primarily due to a significant improvement in our packaged fruit segment's operating results, which increased from a segment loss of US$(803,000) in the Q1 2001 to a segment profit of US$303,000 in the Q1 2002, major reductions in our interest expense and a substantial decrease in our foreign currency translation losses due to the stability of the exchange rate between the Mexican peso and the US dollar."

President and CEO Emilio Castillo Olea commented: "We believe that our efforts in implementing operating improvements in our packaged fruit segment are reflected in our improved operating results. Also, we are continuing to pursue available strategic alternatives for our juice division's assets."