The economy is officially in recession, which may not be bad news for Fresh Del Monte Produce (FDP). It recently reported a 10 percent gain in third-quarter sales of bananas, melons, pineapples and other products.

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The economy is officially in recession, which may not be bad news for Fresh Del Monte Produce (FDP). It recently reported a 10 percent gain in third-quarter sales of bananas, melons, pineapples and other products.

“These items are very stable items,” CEO Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh told analysts after the company reported a 2 percent dip in quarterly profit, mostly due to a year-earlier income tax benefit. “They (usually are not) affected by economic booms or busts. People keep buying these items.”

Indeed, sales volume for the company’s biggest unit — bananas — grew by 5 percent in the quarter, even after prices rose by 14 percent to $13.17 per box. That gain was in part due to acquisitions of small producers, but also because bananas are among the cheapest items sold at grocery stores, says SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst William Chappell, who rates the stock “buy.”

The company says demand for fresh-cut fruit has slowed. This may reflect customers buying cheaper whole fruit they can cut themselves, Chappell says.

The Del Monte brand began in 1886 as a coffee for the Hotel Del Monte in Monterey, Calif. The business split into two in 1989, one focused on fruits and the other on packaged foods. The packaged arm, Del Monte Foods (DLM), is a separate public company.