(July 30, 4:19 p.m.) Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. reported lower net and operating income and gross profit but higher net sales for the second quarter ending June 27.

Del Monte officials blamed the lower performance on higher fruit production and procurement and logistics costs.

The second quarter saw more banana, pineapple and non-tropicals sales but decreased sales of fresh-cut, melons and tomatoes.

During a July 28 investors conference call, Del Monte officials said higher costs in every aspect of its business affected the company’s financial performance, which saw per-share earnings decline from $1.18 in the second quarter of 2007 to $0.87 for the same time period in 2008.

The company experienced $972.2 million in net sales for the quarter compared to $924.2 million last year.

Gross profit was $101.7 million, down from $119.6 million last year.

Operating income during the quarter fell $13.3 million, while net income for the quarter fell from $68.8 million to $55.6 million.

With less worldwide volume and higher worldwide prices, Del Monte’s banana sales increased 17% for the quarter.

The company’s tomato sales, however, declined 12% and 18% in volume. The lower sales followed decreased demand caused by the salmonella outbreak, said Richard Contreras, senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Melon sales fell 23% with volume declining 30%. Company officials attributed the losses to unfavorable weather in its U.S. and Central American growing regions.

Non-tropicals sales increased 5% while experiencing a 12% drop in volume.

Fresh-cut volume decreased 17% with sales decreasing 7%, primarily because of less North American labor, Contreras said.

While Del Monte experienced higher than expected transportation and banana production and procurement costs, the company was able to offset those costs with higher global pricing which resulted in improved banana margins, said Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman and chief executive officer, during the conference call.

Abu-Ghazaleh said Del Monte was integrating fruit sales from its June 9 acquisition of the Costa Rican Caribana banana and pineapple growing and marketing operation. He said Del Monte expects to see full benefits of the acquisition by the end of the year.

Del Monte June 27 acquired the melon production assets, excluding land, of Melones de Costa Rica, S.A., Del Monte’s Costa Rican melon producing partner. The acquisition adds three million boxes of production and should give Del Monte more control over its melon production and volume, Abu-Ghazaleh said.