US fresh fruit and vegetable producer Fresh Del Monte has reported a lower profit than in the second quarter of last year.

Fresh Del Monte said it earned US$59.4m, or $1.03 a share, on sales of $763.6m for the three months ended 26 June. For the similar period ended 27 June, 2003, Fresh Del Monte said it earned $81.2m, or $1.42 a share, on sales of $700.6m.

Turnover was up 9%, due to higher banana volume and pricing, the company said in a statement. Beyond the contribution from bananas, stronger fresh-cut fruit and vegetables sales, increased tomato and potato repack revenues and favourable foreign exchange fluctuation also played a part in the sales growth.

Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Fresh Del Monte chairman and chief executive officer, said the company is very pleased with its performance in the second quarter, despite unfavourable climate conditions in Colombia and Costa Rica and higher raw material costs.

“We are particularly encouraged by the results of our fresh-cut operations, which continue to grow substantially,” he said.