CAYMAN ISLANDS (TheStreet) -- All rational diet plans allow you to eat fruits and vegetables liberally.

Those foods are free from the chemical additives and scientifically engineered ingredients that consumers are railing against. Americans looking for a healthier alternative to typical snacks are likely to pick up products by fruit producers like Fresh Del Monte Produce ( FDP), leading to a boon for fruit and vegetable companies.

Del Monte's main competitors, Dole ( DOLE) and Chiquita ( CQB), aren't as stable in the eyes of TheStreet.com Ratings' equity model, which gives Del Monte a "buy," while Chiquita is a "hold" and Dole isn't yet rated.

Del Monte is well-positioned to meet demand for healthy alternatives. The company's forward price-to-earnings ratio of 7.8 is a discount to the industry average of about 18. The company also has strong financials and low volatility.

Del Monte's current debt-to-capital ratio is 0.16, much less than the industry average of 0.42. Its stock has plotted a consistent course. The beta value of 0.59 indicates that the shares are insulated from stock-market risk. (One is a perfect correlation.)

Del Monte produces whole fruit in addition to freshly cut and canned fruit and vegetables as well as juices and frozen products. When Americans shop for healthier food, Del Monte is a natural choice. The perpetual push to eat better is a strong ally to Del Monte's share price. And even though the company may be missing out on some of the premium afforded by organic lines of business, only the affluent will pay for those.

Del Monte's stock has risen 38% over the past year, trailing the S&P 500. That's what makes Del Monte a good value. As natural foods gain acceptance and Del Monte becomes more well-known, performance should pick up. The process may not be fast, but all indicators point to outperformance.

-- Reported by David MacDougall in Boston.

Prior to joining TheStreet Ratings, David MacDougall was an analyst at Cambridge Associates, an investment consulting firm, where he worked with private equity and venture capital funds. He graduated cum laude from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in finance and is a Level III CFA candidate.

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