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Fresh Del Monte Produce Reports Solid Third Quarter Results; Earnings Per Share, Net Sales, Net Income All Advance Despite Temporarily Challenging Market Conditions

10.23.03

CORAL GABLES, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 23, 2003--Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE:FDP), one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit and vegetables, today announced solid financial results for the third quarter and nine months ended September 26, 2003.

The Company reported earnings per diluted share (EPS) of $0.60 in the third quarter of 2003, compared with $0.57 per diluted share in the third quarter of 2002. For the first nine months of 2003, Fresh Del Monte Produce reported EPS of $3.56, compared with $2.84 per diluted share in the first nine months of 2002. The 2003 year-to-date earnings include a $0.20 per-share gain from insurance recoveries.

Net sales for the third quarter of 2003 rose to $563.7 million, compared with $498.5 million in the same period last year. Net sales for the first nine months rose to $1.9 billion from $1.6 billion a year ago. The growth in sales in the quarter and nine months was due primarily to expansion in the repack produce segment.

Fresh Del Monte's gross profit for the third quarter of 2003 was $65.0 million, compared with a gross profit of $67.9 million for the third quarter of 2002. Gross profit for the first nine months was $281.3 million, compared with $271.5 million for the same period last year. The slight decline in gross profit for the quarter was due to adverse weather conditions affecting the Company's banana and tomato businesses, while the increase in gross profit for the first nine months of 2003 was a result of the Company's growth in net sales of gold pineapple and non-tropical produce.

Net income for the third quarter of 2003 was $34.3 million, compared with $32.5 million in the third quarter of 2002. Net income for the first nine months increased to $203.6 million, compared with $160.0 million a year ago.

"We're proud that we achieved these solid results in spite of challenging market conditions brought on by unfavorable weather conditions in Europe," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Del Monte Produce. "Our performance is a testament to the success of our initiatives to add value to our product line through diversification and other measures. These efforts continue to provide us with the resilience we need to deliver strong, sustainable performance." Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh added that the unveiling of the Company's new pineapple, Del Monte Honey Gold(TM) was a good example of one such value-enhancing initiative, with more such measures planned for the future.

Fresh Del Monte is a leading vertically integrated producer and marketer of high quality fresh produce. The Company's primary products include bananas, pineapples, melons, specialty melons, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, onions, grapes, citrus, apples, pears, peaches, plums and plantains. The Company markets its products worldwide under the Del Monte(R) brand, a symbol of product quality and reliability since 1892.

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 27, 2002.

Fresh Del Monte will host a conference call and simultaneous webcast at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time today to discuss the third quarter 2003 results and to discuss the Company's progress and outlook. The live webcast can be accessed on the Company's Investor Relations home page at http://www.freshdelmonte.com. The call will begin promptly at 11:00 a.m. and will be available for replay on the Company's web site approximately two hours after the conclusion of the call.

Note to the Editor: This release and other press releases are available on the Company's web site, http://www.freshdelmonte.com.

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

                            Quarter ended         Nine months ended
                       ----------------------- -----------------------
                        Sept. 26,   Sept. 27,   Sept. 26,   Sept. 27,
                          2003        2002        2003        2002
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
                                          Unaudited

Net sales                  $563.7      $498.5    $1,908.1    $1,603.1
Cost of products sold       498.7       430.6     1,626.8      1331.6
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
 Gross profit                65.0        67.9       281.3       271.5

Selling, general and
 administrative
 expenses                    28.3        24.8        82.6        73.7
Provision for Kunia
 Well Site                      -         7.0           -         7.0
Asset impairment
 charge                         -           -           -        10.2
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
 Operating income            36.7        36.1       198.7       180.6

Interest expense, net         1.1         3.0         5.4        11.2
Other, net                    1.1         3.4        23.4         9.0
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Earnings before income
 taxes and cumulative
 effect of change in
 accounting principle        36.7        36.5       216.7       178.4
Income taxes                  2.4         4.0        13.1        12.3
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Earnings before
 cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle                   34.3        32.5       203.6       166.1
Cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle-SFAS No. 142         -           -           -        (6.1)
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Net income                  $34.3       $32.5      $203.6      $160.0
                       =========== =========== =========== ===========

Net income per share -
 Basic:
Income before
 cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle                 $ 0.61      $ 0.58      $ 3.61      $ 3.01
Cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle                      -           -           -       (0.11)
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Net income per share -
 Basic                      $0.61       $0.58       $3.61       $2.90
                       =========== =========== =========== ===========

Net income per share -
 Diluted:
Income before
 cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle                 $ 0.60      $ 0.57      $ 3.56      $ 2.95
Cumulative effect of
 change in accounting
 principle                      -           -           -       (0.11)
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Net income per share -
 Diluted                    $0.60       $0.57       $3.56       $2.84
                       =========== =========== =========== ===========

Weighted average of
 ordinary shares
 outstanding:
   Basic               56,632,819  56,060,613  56,373,948  55,204,999
   Diluted             57,562,386  57,150,918  57,228,771  56,321,974


                            Quarter ended         Nine months ended
                       ----------------------- -----------------------
                        Sept. 26,   Sept. 27,   Sept. 26,   Sept. 27,
                           2003        2002        2003        2002
                       ----------- ----------- ----------- -----------
Selected Income
Statement Data
(Unaudited):
  Deprecation and
   amortization             $15.8       $15.7       $47.2       $44.4
  Hurricane Mitch
   insurance proceeds(1)        -           -        11.5           -
  Gain on sale of
   Corrugadora(2)               -           -         5.5           -


                           Sept. 26, 2003           Dec. 27, 2002
                       ----------------------- -----------------------
                              Unaudited
Selected Balance Sheet
Data:
  Cash                          $81.8                    $9.5
  Working capital               179.0                   103.4
  Total assets                1,451.0                 1,262.8
  Total debt                     48.2                    87.3
  Shareholders' equity          941.6                   759.5

(1) Other, net for the nine months ended September 26, 2003 includes
    business interruption insurance recoveries related to Hurricane
    Mitch, which damaged Fresh Del Monte's Guatemalan banana
    operations in 1998, of $11.5 million, or $0.20 per basic and
    diluted share.

(2) Other, net for the nine months ended September 26, 2003 includes a
    gain on the sale of Fresh Del Monte's unconsolidated subsidiary,
    Corrugadora, of $5.5 million, or $0.10 per basic and diluted
    share.
    CONTACT: Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Coral Gables
             Dana Weinstein, 305-520-8278

    SOURCE: Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.
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