Slumping melon markets are expected to pick up in January.
Lou Kertesz, melon category manager for Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms Inc., said that over the past months, two forces have converged to create weak honeydew, cantaloupe, mini-watermelon and canary melon markets.
“Since Thanksgiving demand has definitely dropped, and volume has definitely increased,” Kertesz said Dec. 20. “Right now we’re struggling. The promo price we gave for Christmas went by the wayside when the market tumbled.”
Brent Harrison, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co., expected watermelon markets to be weak around the holidays but tighten in January and February.
The week of Dec. 17, Al Harrison had completed its transition from its northern to its southern Mexico watermelon deal. The company expects to ship from the south until about mid-February.
“We’ve had excellent growing conditions, and the quality’s good,” he said.
Helping to drive up markets in January will be decreased acreage in southern Mexico, Harrison said. More growers in the region have substituted sugarcane for melons, he said.
“This market is going to be supply-driven,” Harrison said. “Demand is steady.”
Ayco Farms was sourcing melons from Guatemala in December. In addition to the robust Central American volumes, Mexico was adding to the supply glut, Kertesz said.
“The Mexican honeydew and mini seasons are running longer than they normally go,” he said.
Markets were sluggish on honeydews, cantaloupes and mini watermelons, Kertesz said.
“It’s ugly all the way across the board.”
Size profile in December also was likely playing a role in the weak markets, Kertesz said. Fruit has been very large, with little availability of smaller sizes.
“There hasn’t been a lot of flexibility” on size, Kertesz said.
Markets should strengthen in the second or third week of January when Guatemala winds down and Honduras gets set to take over the offshore deal, Kertesz said. Those stronger markets could hold through February, he said.