Breeding for enhanced flavor attributes is being driven by a number of factors, said Sekhar Boddupalli, Monsanto Co. Vegetables global consumer research and development lead, Woodland.
Surveys have shown that consumers choose retailers based partly on the diversity of produce they stock. Retailers, on the other hand, use produce to help differentiate themselves from other grocery stores, he said.
“It’s becoming more and more of a trend for both the consumers and the retailers to focus on year-round produce supplies,” Boddupalli said. “Year-round, consistent flavor is important.”
Although melons imported from Central and South America have had good shelf life in the past, he said they had little flavor.
Heirloom varieties have wonderful flavor, but they may lack the shippability and shelf life that commercial outlets require.
“We’re combining the ability to ship the fruit while actually returning or bringing in this flavor,” Boddupalli said.
But flavor isn’t just brix or high sugar levels.
He said it also involves numerous other chemical components, such as volatiles and flavinoids, as well as the entire eating experience, including visual appearance and texture.
The charentais-like Melorange is an example of a melon with a long shelf life, good sugars and tantalizing aromas, Boddupalli said.
The fruit, slightly smaller than a cantaloupe, has deep orange flesh, sugars as high as 17 brix and a fragrance like cantaloupe.