Fresh Del Monte Produce has signed a long-term, exclusive banana production and purchase agreement with Rise n' Shine Biotech, one of the largest biotech, floriculture and horticulture operations in India.

Rise n' Shine operates in banana plantlet research and development.

As part of the agreement, Fresh Del Monte will provide technical assistance to Rise n' Shine and its production sources. The first shipment of Del Monte branded bananas is scheduled for export to the Middle East in June 2009.

"We are very excited to have signed a multi-year, exclusive banana production and purchase agreement with Rise n' Shine/India," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte's chairman and chief executive officer.

"This new agreement is consistent with our vision to be a leading supplier of innovative, high quality fresh and prepared food products to global markets, while tailoring to our strategic focus of producing and delivering high-quality products cost efficiently. India's geographic location offers the benefits of more efficient shipping to the Middle East and production quality because of shorter transit time and ideal growing conditions."

He added: "We view Rise n' Shine's modern research facility, biotech development and production sourcing capabilities and geographic position as a huge win as we further expand our presence in the high growth Middle East and Asia regions."

India is one of the world's largest banana producing countries with the majority of its production consumed by the domestic market.