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Fresh Del Monte to Acquire Country Best Produce


CORAL GABLES, Fla., Dec 16, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. (NYSE:FDP), one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Country Best Produce ("Country Best") from Agway, Inc. ("Agway"). Country Best is a leading East Coast processor and packager of potatoes, onions, sweet corn, and other fruits and vegetables with sales of approximately $100 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2003.

Subject to the completion of the transaction, Fresh Del Monte will acquire for $12.2 million in cash the assets of Country Best under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code pursuant to Agway's October 2002 voluntary filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of New York. The transaction, which is subject to customary conditions and to final bankruptcy court approval, is scheduled to close before year-end.

Under the agreement, Fresh Del Monte will acquire from Agway, Inc. processing and packaging operations in Plant City, Florida; Winder, Georgia; and Syracuse, New York. In addition, Fresh Del Monte will acquire two regional facilities - one in the Tampa/Central Florida market and the other in the Atlanta region. Lastly, Fresh Del Monte will acquire a buying operation in Idaho that facilitates sales between produce buyers and growers and provides proximity to one of the nation's largest supplies of high-quality potatoes.

"Acquiring Country Best Produce will help Fresh Del Monte to strengthen our market position in two key product areas -- potatoes and onions -- while providing us with a meaningful foothold in the growing sweet corn category," said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fresh Del Monte. "Country Best's considerable strength on the East Coast nicely complements Fresh Del Monte's existing presence in our other regions of the country and will allow us to better serve our retail and foodservice customers on a nationwide basis. In addition, the acquisition provides us with distribution capabilities in Syracuse, which is a new market for us. Synergistic with our acquisition of Standard Fruit & Vegetable of Dallas earlier this year, the acquisition of Country Best will both leverage and significantly expand our current repack operations. As such, this transaction is consistent with our strategy to expand our strong market position across a more diverse platform of products and geographies," said Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh.

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.

Note to the Editor: This release and other press releases are available on the Company's web site,

SOURCE: Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc.

Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., Coral Gables
Dana Weinstein, 305-520-8278

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