This is just a tough time to be in food. A protein glut is pressuring companies like Tyson (NYSE:TSN) and Smithfield, packaged-food companies like Kellogg (NYSE:K) have to worry about input costs, and now fruit and vegetable companies like Fresh Del Monte (NYSE:FDP) continue to be squeezed by tough pricing and rising costs.

Sales dropped 2% this time around. Though sales of bananas were up a bit, and pineapples up a bit more, other categories saw sales declines. Making matters worse, high packaging, fuel, and transport costs continue to erode gross margins. On the operating income line, an impairment charge means things aren't quite as bad as they look, but they're still certainly bad enough.

There's no shortage of threats to Fresh Del Monte's main business lines. Price competition in pineapples continues at a fierce pace, and the banana market has always been both highly competitive and highly vulnerable to disease and weather. While Fresh Del Monte is certainly doing the right thing in trying to move to more value-added business with customers like Jack in the Box and Sonic (NASDAQ:SONC), it's nonetheless an operation with very few meaningful long-term competitive advantages.

I've thought about taking a flier on Chiquita (NYSE:CQB) from time to time, but I can't say I'm willing to do the same on Fresh Del Monte. Chiquita shares more information with shareholders, does so more quickly, and has fewer corporate governance concerns. Fresh Del Monte hasn't necessarily done anything wrong, nor will it, but Chiquita's superior disclosure nevertheless weighs in my decision-making process.

Might there be value here? After all, it's often best to buy when things look worst. Trouble is, this will perpetually be a volatile commodity business. One hurricane can wreck a year's earnings. Moreover, when your average consumer really can't distinguish between Fresh Del Monte, Dole, or Chiquita products, how much leverage do you have when you're sitting across the table from representatives of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) or McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)? Keep that in mind when figuring out how much you want to pay for this produce provider.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). Fresh Del Monte is a former Hidden Gems pick.