“It could help, if the players know how to be rational, otherwise is will just be the same game,” Abu-Ghazaleh said.
Del Monte’s top officials also spoke about the company’s fresh-cut segment, which posted a net sales decrease of 11% as well as an 11% decline in volume for the first quarter.
Contreras said the decline in net sales was primarily because of lower sales in Europe because of a previously announced loss of retail business in the United Kingdom. However, Abu-Ghazaleh said he sees fresh-cut as a long-term venture with the payoff beginning as soon as the third or fourth quarter of this year.
“We are seeing (retailers) coming in and out,” Abu-Ghazaleh said. “They like to take fruit off the shelf that hasn’t sold and cut it and put it in containers. There’s a big difference in what we do in cutting the Plus-A, top-notch quality fruit.
“And we have all of the standards and hygiene that no one can have in a grocery store. We see a lot of grocers in it for a few months and then they come back to our products. It will still take some years for this to settle down and for (retailers) to understand (fresh-cut) is a business that has to be done at a professional and systematic level.”
Other statistics from Fresh Del Monte’s first quarter report include:
- Bananas: Net sales increased 8% to $436.9 million. Worldwide pricing increased 24 cents, or 2%, to $15.21 per unit. Volume was 6% higher. Gross profit was $31.0 million, compared with $30.5 million in the first quarter of 2013. Unit costs were 2% higher.
- Pineapple: Net sales increased 12% to $132.9 million. Volume increased 16%. Pricing decreased 4%. Unit cost was 1% higher.
- Fresh-cut: Net sales decreased 11% to $88.1 million. Volume decreased 11%. Pricing was in line with 2013. Unit cost was 2% higher.
- Melons: Net sales decreased 1% to $51.2 million. Volume decreased 19%. Pricing increased 23%. Unit cost was in line with 2013.
- Non-tropical: Net sales increased 8% to $124.7 million. Volume decreased 3%. Pricing increased 11%. Unit cost was 12% higher.
- Tomatoes: Net sales increased 11% to $19.2 million. Volume increased 9%. Pricing increased 2%. Unit cost was 4% higher.