Kertesz said the specialty melons fare well in areas with large ethnic populations.
“They’re not going to be successful in a place like Des Moines, compared to, say, Toronto,” he said.
Odron said cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon still account for the vast majority of melon category sales, but added that “consumers like seeing these other varieties, and they like trying new varieties.”
Of course, another staple of the melon category is fresh-cut product.
“I think that at the beginning of the recession back in 2008, the cut fruit was greatly affected,” Suarez said.
“But I think that it has been recuperating little by little. I think that if we manage to offer cut fruit with consistently good taste, the cut fruit business will recuperate even faster.”
Odron said fresh-cut sales have been flat, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“If you’re not losing and you’re holding your own, that’s pretty good in this economy,” he said.
“We all want to grow, but at least it’s not dipping. I’m sure there are pockets of the country where sales are down. But there is a perception that if it’s packaged and sealed it’s better and safer.”
Odron said fresh-cut is a good alternative for the many consumers who don’t know how to pick a good melon.
“When they see it already cut, they gravitate to that. It’s grab and go,” he said.