Wal-Mart wants to sell as many cantaloupes in the winter as in the summer. Now, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer thinks it has a melon that can do the job.
Wal-Mart is placing its hopes on Sweet Spark from seed company Bayer, said Molly Blakeman, a spokeswoman with the retailer.
Wal-Mart, the country’s largest grocer, sells nearly 10 times as many cantaloupes in June as it does in December, and the retailer has long sought a way to reach more of a balance, Blakeman said.
For years, the focus on winter melons has been getting them to U.S. stores in a marketable condition, rather than flavor, Blakeman said.
“For the past 15 years, winter cantaloupes have been grown in Central America and shipped by ocean vessel to the United States, and farmers have prioritized shelf life over flavor,” she said.
“We had cantaloupes that were firm and looked nice on the shelf, but they didn’t really taste like cantaloupes,” she said.
And, she said, something that doesn’t taste good doesn’t sell so well.
So, Wal-Mart set about trying to find a “summertime cantaloupe experience” for the winter months. The company worked with seed companies around the world to find an answer, Blakeman said.
“We’ve then worked with farmers who have the expertise to grow a highly-flavorful melon and bring it to market,” she said.
Bayer came up with the Sweet Spark, which Wal-Mart introduced to 200 stores and plans to bring to more stores in the fall, Blakeman said.