Melon sales in the UK retail sector were up 6.2% in volume and 4.9% in value for the 52 weeks to March 29, Kantar Worldpanel data shows.
Altogether 134,402 tons of melons were sold, for a total spend of nearly £135 million (€187m), with honeydew/yellow and Galia accounting for nearly 62% of that value. Honeydew/yellow sales were up 6.3% in volume and 4.1% in value on the previous 52 weeks, and Galia 4.3% for both.
But the biggest percentage change was seen for watermelon, Piel de Sapo and Charentais melons. Watermelon – which accounted for just under a sixth of the total melon spend – enjoyed growth of 13.4% in value year-on-year and 14% in volume (to 30,570 tons).
Piel de Sapo gained almost 11% in value and 12.3% in volume (to 5,297 tons) and the specialty melon Charentais leapt up 190% in value and 171% in volume but off a much smaller base – 251 tons sold for the year to March 29.
Cantaloupe sales slipped 1.6% in value and by the same amount in volume, to 13,054 tons.
Melon plants with fruit that stays on the vine longer are the subject of a new patent for Syngenta Participations AG.
The melons produced have high total solids and/or firm flesh, the Swiss agri-business also says in patent documents published by the US Patent and Trademark Office under the title: “Inbred melon lines ME007 and ME009.“
Explaining the background to the invention, Syngenta said many cantaloupe varieties are climacteric, meaning ripening is associated with ethylene production, resulting in abscission (‘slip’) from the vine. “Climacteric fruits may abscise from the vine prior to optimal sugar deposition, which may adversely impact taste. Accordingly, it would be desirable to develop improved melon plants having improved taste, shelf life and/or shipping characteristics,” it said.
In a summary of the invention, Syngenta said that in representative embodiments, its invention provides “novel non-climacteric melon plants that produce fruit that are able to remain on the vine longer (i.e., they do not abscise or “slip” from the vine) than a climacteric melon, which may result in improved taste and/or sweetness.”
It also talked about representative embodiments where “the melon plants of the invention are characterized by two or more of these characteristics: non-climacteric fruit ripening, a fruit having a firm flesh and/or a fruit having high soluble solids.”
And it said that in further exemplary embodiments, “the melon plants of the invention are characterized by fruit having an enhanced sugar (e.g., sucrose) content and/or a sweeter taste and/or having a longer field shelf life and/or post-harvest shelf life.“
The patent was granted last November 4. Read about it here by clicking on ‘full text’.
Photo: a conventional melon and slice by Renee Comet via Wikimedia Commons.