“It’s very difficult to market cantaloupes. You have to be careful not to sell too many of one size since we don’t know exactly what the crop will do,” Malanca said.
Growers and shippers will need to settle into the deal after last year’s listeria scare, since consumer demand for this year’s deal is still a bit of an unknown.
“We’ve been out of production on cantaloupes since just after the Rocky Ford situation.” McGuigan said. “We’re just getting into it this week, and we’re interested to see what the market feels like and what the consumer pull-through is.”
Growers are optimistic about where the season will go from here, though.
“People love (cantaloupes), and they are a staple item for retailers in summer months,” Torosian said.
“Demand in Arizona has been good and we anticipate the same will follow from here on out. It seems consumers are returning to shelves to buy cantaloupes,” said Garrett Patricio, vice president of operations and general counsel for Westside Produce.
It seems even a major food safety scare can’t bring the melon market down for good.
“We’re planning on a good season,” McGuigan said.