Specialty melons help increase sales at retail

04/19/2013 01:05:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Cantaloupes, honeydews and specialty melons join watermelons to fill out the overall melon category, and they’re as versatile as ever in their retail offerings.

Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., offers several melon options, including cantaloupes, white netted honeydews, yellow-flesh watermelons and orange-flesh honeydews in addition to seeded, seedless and miniature watermelons.

The company’s Tuscan cantaloupes are still popular, despite any challenges the category has seen over the last few years, according to John McGuigan, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing.

“This cantaloupe has such a great eating profile, retailers have seen consistent consumer demand for this product,” McGuigan said.

Other companies also continue to see demand for cantaloupes, honeydews and other melons.

“We realized that mainstream America really does want flavor,” said Jim Pandol, president of Pandol Associates Marketing, Delano, Calif.

Pandol Associates offers honeydew melons as part of their Sweet Babies product line, which focuses on providing great flavor instead of large fruit.

He said that despite the competition for a “share of stomach,” specialty melons and other offerings still have a place in the market.

“Ultimately for us, as grower-shippers, we are competing for consumer attention, and we want to give them something special. We want to give them an experience,” he said.

Tom Glenos, president of Kid’s Choice Fresh Produce Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sees specialty melons as an option to fill that need for a unique experience.

“There is a difference in flavor with the specialty melons,” he said, specifically mentioning black melons.

“People like them because of the uniqueness of it,” he said.

Kid’s Choice also offers some yellow-flesh melons and seeded and seedless watermelons.

Feasterville, Pa.-based Abbott & Cobb Inc., made several advances in melon varieties before selling that portion of their business to Monheim, Germany-based Bayer CropScience.

Bayer has taken over the introduction of a new honeydew, called SummerDew, which is now being planted in about 95% of the productions in Central America, according to chief executive officer Art Abbott.

“This new melon type features much more dense fruit with much tighter cavities than any conventional honeydew,” Abbott said.

Abbott also mentioned that netted melons have seen change over the past several years.

“No. 1, they do not slip when ready. They have much higher brix when mature, will last in controlled storage for two to three weeks and are much more dense flesh than old-fashioned types,” he said.



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