Ayco Farms introduces yellow-flesh honeydew

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms Inc. is introducing a yellow-fleshed honeydew from Central America this season, said Ken Kodish, key account manager.

The honeydew market, Kodish said, is changing.

“What we’ve learned and observed is that overall demand on honeydews seems to be waning,” he said. “There’s less excitement than in years past.”

Ayco was able to find varieties this season that had good shelf life in addition to high sugar levels and good overall taste, Kodish said.

“We heard (from customers) that we needed something new and improved in the honeydew category,” he said. “In general, it’s a category that needs a little shakeup.”

Ayco Farms is not, however, phasing out its conventional honeydew program, Kodish said.

Also new at Ayco for 2010-11, the company plans to bring in Central American melons through ports in Texas and New England on a more consistent basis, though the bulk of shipments will still come through Florida, Kodish said.

Fresh Quest to import new honeydew varieties

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Fresh Quest Produce Inc. will import two new honeydew varieties from Central American this season, said Lou Kertesz, vice president.

Poor performance by older honeydew varieties in recent years led to the switch, Kertesz said.

“The last couple of years, whether it’s been domestic or offshore, the appearance of the honeydews hasn’t been that grea. They’ve had discoloration and the sugars haven’t been consistent,” he said.

The new varieties Fresh Quest will import this season from Central America are cleaner, higher in sugars and have a more consistent flavor, he said.

Itaueira adds second melon for 2010-11

Brazilian melon grower-shipper Itaueira Agropecuaria SA plans to export its piel de sapo melon to the U.S. this season — and two other melons could follow in 2011.

The company sampled three varieties of piel de sapo at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention in October, and attendees almost unanimously preferred the same one, said Rodrigo Lima, president of Key Biscayne, Fla.-based Crown International USA LLC, Itaueira's North American marketing partner.

As a result, the company expects to begin exporting them to the U.S. in December, with shipments lasting through February, Lima said.

“The feedback from PMA was very important for us,” he said. “We brought 4,000 small cups for demos, and we ran out the second day. We had to go out and buy more.”

The piel de sapo, like Itaueira’s staple melon, the canary, is white-fleshed and very sweet, Lima said. But it is larger than the canary and has a crunchier texture, making it a good fit for foodservice fresh-cut use, he said.

Itaueira will begin shipments on a small scale, with just two pallets per load of canary melons, Lima said. During its September to March season, Itaueira ships once a week to New Jersey and New York. It also plans to ship every 15 days to Long Beach beginning Nov. 26; Miami beginning Dec. 3; and Houston beginning Dec. 5.

If the PMA success of two of its other varieties — the galia and a mini seedless watermelon — is any indication, Itaueira could be exporting them to the U.S. in 2011, Lima said.

The galia is smaller than the canary, offering retailers the option of a lower price point, and more yellow-fleshed than the canary and the piel de sapo, Lim said.

By Markets Editor Andy Nelson