Fresh Del Monte Produce, the leading banana and pineapple producer, marketer and distributor, has reported a further loss in its second quarter profits, which it attributes to hefty charges, higher fuel, raw materials and labour costs and a decline in sales.

The Florida-based company reported Q2 sales down from US$922.8m in the year-ago quarter to $907.1m, with gross profit for the quarter down 31% to $71.3m. This translates into a net loss for the quarter of $17.8m, or $0.31 per diluted share, compared with net income of $46.5 million, or $0.80 per diluted share in the year-ago period.

The results missed analyst expectations for profit of 33 cents per share on sales of $918.5m, according to a poll by Thomson Financial.

"Our earnings in the second quarter indicate that we are operating in what is the most difficult environment of the last ten years," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and CEO. "However […] our ability to increase North America banana contract pricing, our aggressive implementation of cost-cutting programmes and our increased strategic investments in our business collectively assisted us in partially offsetting the impact of higher operating costs during the quarter."