Fruit and vegetable producer Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, mostly on tax benefits and lower interest expense, but its net sales missed expectations due to weak demand across most of its businesses.

For the third quarter, net income attributable to the company was $28.6 million, or 45 cents a share, compared with $29.3 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding items, quarterly profit was 61 cents a share.

Net sales fell 8 percent to $766.2 million. Banana sales rose 5 percent, but this was offset by declining sales of most fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared food.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 37 cents a share, before special items, on revenue of $819 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company, whose rivals include Chiquita Brands International Inc and the recently listed Dole Food Co Inc , saw tax benefits of $12.8 million in the quarter, compared with tax expenses of $2.6 million last year.

Fresh Del Monte's shares closed at $21.92 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Mihir Dalal in Bangalore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)