Fresh Del Monte to Acquire Country Best Produce

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., one of the world's largest producers and marketers of fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables, has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the assets of Country Best Produce from Agway Inc.

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, Fla.; Winder, Ga.; and Syracuse, N.Y. In addition, Fresh Del Monte will acquire two regional facilities -- one in the Tampa/Central Florida market and the other in the Atlanta region. Fresh Del Monte will also 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 c.e.o. 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." He also said the acquisition will provide the company with distribution capabilities in Syracuse, which is a new market for Del Monte.

"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," Abu-Ghazaleh said.
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