Big Chuy adds Mexican packing lines

Big Chuy Distributors & Sons Inc., Nogales, Ariz., added three packing lines in Mexico for this year.

The addition should increase the speed at which the company can pack watermelons, according to Jesus Lopez Jr., president.

The new equipment also will help with sizing requests.

“The new lines will help provide the exact specs customers need and increase the speed and accuracy we can pack,” Lopez said.


C.H. Robinson watermelons get Pink Ribbons

Melon marketing business updatesEden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson will continue its MelonUp! Pink Ribbon Watermelon campaign for 2014, according to Josh Knox, category general manager.

The program began in 2008 and offers retailers the chance to partner with the company on this popular promotion.

“According to the 2013 Cone Cause Survey, 91% of consumers want to see more products, services, and retailers support worthy causes,” Knox said.

C.H. Robinson donates a portion of each watermelon sale to breast cancer research on behalf of the participating retailer, Knox said.

Customers also have the opportunity to participate in local events that promote the cause such as the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Bloomington, Minn., and a “World’s Largest Watermelon Display” at a retail store in Canada.


Dixondale Farms expands cantaloupe season

Bruce Frasier, president of Carrizo Springs, Texas-based Dixondale Farms, said the company is working to extend its cantaloupe season, a process they began last year as the only shipper out of Texas.

“We were able to do it to a certain extent. This year we’re experimenting with about 15 different varieties to try and extend the season even more,” Frasier said.

He said the process of extending the season presents challenges because some varieties aren’t suited for a later harvest.

“We are trying to find a new variety that will work later in the season. If you use the same variety, it presents a challenge to maintain the sizing and quality,” Frasier said.

Dixondale Farms celebrated its 100th year in business last year.


Dulcinea Farms increases production

Since the acquisition by Pacific Trellis on Jan. 1, Ladera Ranch-based Dulcinea Farms has ramped up its spring and summer melon production.

“We expect high yields and quality for both our PureHeart, Ruby Bliss and Tuscan cantaloupe productions,” said Monique McLaws, marketing director for Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., said.

The company also is working on a new watermelon trial based on a variety popular in Europe.

“We are excited to do an introductory pre-commercial launch starting out of Yuma starting in June. We think this variety is an excellent addition to the Dulcinea portfolio and has a flavor profile consumers will absolutely love,” McLaws said.


Kid’s Choice bumps up acreage

Tom Glenos, president of Kid’s Choice Fresh Produce Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said the company has increased its acreage for 2014.

“We’re up a little bit on acreage in all regions,” he said.

Glenos said the melons will again be marketed under the Kid’s Choice brand.


Pandol Associates offers Sweet Cheeks melons

Melon marketing business updatesPandol Associates Marketing, Delano, Calif., will offer its premium Sweet Cheeks honeydew melons again this year, hopefully expanding the program in its second year.

“These melons have a high level of maturity and are shipped very quickly, directly from the farm to the customer,” Jim Pandol, president, said.

Pandol said so far the most interest for these melons has come from Canada, but he is hopeful the U.S. market will open up even more this year.

The Sweet Cheeks label will be on two levels of selected-maturity honey dew melons, sweet and extra sweet, with brix level around 11, according to the company website.

Less mature melons will still be available, but not offered in the Sweet Cheeks brand.

Pandol said the company also offers the Sweet Cheeks brand for grapes and will be looking at other items, such as cucumbers, in the future months.


Pura Vida tacks on 800 acres

Pura Vida Farms LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz., has seen growth over the past year, a trend that continues with significant additional melon acreage for 2014, according to Michael Martori, vice president of sales.

“This is part of the continued growth as we look forward,” Martori said.

He said the company has added about 800 acres for this year.

Pura Vida ships watermelon year-round, as well as cantaloupe, honeydew and other specialty melons, Martori said.