Melon grower-shippers provide updates on the latest developments in their operations. ( File Photo )

Del Monte reports good volumes

Coral Gables, Fla.-based marketer Del Monte is shipping Harper cantaloupes, honeydew, watermelons and its proprietary MAG melons, the positive attributes of which include a smaller seed cavity.

The company recently added a yellow flesh watermelon to its offering, said vice president of marketing Dennis Christou.

He noted that conditions in March and April were ideal for melon production, and volume and quality have been good this season. The company supplies melons year-round and business is strong, Christou said.


Del Mar Packing adds watermelon

Westley, Calif.-based Del Mar Packing will have its own seedless watermelon program for the first time this year.

“We got to a point that we’re doing enough, we have the good customer base asking for watermelons — that made us jump into that deal,” sales associate Heriberto Hernandez said in late March.

Del Mar plans to ship watermelons around the same time as its other melons, from July through October.

The company also recently added a salesman, Scott Campbell. He has been an intern with Del Mar for the past several summers.

He knows how our whole program works,” Hernandez said. “That’s why we felt like he was the guy to hire.”

Del Mar also has a new 20,000-square-foot cooling facility.

This season will be the first during which the company will fully use the additional space after trying it out toward the end of last season when volume was lower.


Dixondale expects good demand

Bruce Frasier, president of Carrizo Springs, Texas-based Dixondale Farms, anticipates that the desire for local produce will mean strong interest in melons from the company.

“Being the only shipper in Texas, they need our product during the month of June to have something from Texas on their shelves,” Frasier said.

“There are only a handful of Texas products available in promotional volume, and our cantaloupes are a unique offering.”

The company wants to tell its story, so it has point-of-sale material available for retailers, and some use their photos on displays.

“Consumers need to know from where their food is coming,” Frasier said. “Texans want to help Texas farmers so we need to get the marketing focused on getting a safe, consistent and high quality product.

“The key barometer is not how many loads you sell to a chain when the melons are being promoted on ad. The key is how many loads they buy when they don’t have them on ad,” Frasier said. “That shows that people will pay full price for a quality product from Texas. That is what we use as an indicator of our success.”


Five Crowns boosts watermelon

Brawley, Calif.-based Five Crowns Marketing will produce seedless watermelons in the Coachella Valley for the first time this year.

“Our Arizona watermelon program is very big, and that gives you the good support for the 4th of July holiday for seedless watermelons, which is huge,” said sales and marketing director Daren Van Dyke.

The company expects to start shipping May 1 , a slight delay from recent years due to some cooler weather.


Jackson Farming increases acreage

Autryville, N.C.-based Jackson Farming Co. has added seedless watermelon acreage at its Georgia and North Carolina farms.

The increases in seedless watermelon production — including nearly 20% in North Carolina — will help meet demand for the fruit around the Fourth of July, said Matt Solana, vice president of operations and supply chains for the company.

“For 2018 our goal is to solidify our position in the Southeast with our chain store customers by providing the quality and service they expect every day,” Solana said.

“On the marketing side we will continue to tell our story in social media to educate the consumer on farming practices and locally grown and to let them know where they can find the JFC products they have come to know and trust, be that in our strawberries, broccoli, cantaloupes, honeydews, seedless and seeded watermelons or sweet potatoes. 

“We have to continue to tell the farm story and build a connection with our consumers of today,” Solana said. “Our drone and drone pilot Daniel Brown are ever searching for new footage to show how melons and produce are actually grown on the farms that feed America today.”


PTF/Dulcinea hires director

Los Angeles-based Pacific Trellis Fruit/Dulcinea Farms has added a director of logistics.

Brad Lukesh, who was most recently with Pasadena, Calif.-based Sun Pacific, will be in charge of making sure shipments get where they are going on time in light of the new electronic logging device mandate, said general manager Josh Leichter.

The company plans to start Arizona production in May and in the meantime is sourcing its PureHeart variety personal melons from Mexico.

“We’re finishing up some of the product from the Sinaloa area, and we’re sort of in the middle of our production out of Guaymas, which is in Sonora,” Leichter said in late March.

“We’re also getting ready to start just a small amount of volume in Florida.”