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Galkia – the melon that always tastes like melon

The skin of Bayer's new Galkia melon indicates the best time for harvest by changing from green to yellow.

Bayer launched its Galkia melon at Fruit Logistica 2016 with the promise of consistent melon flavour and quality, and optimum ripeness, all through summer. “The times of unpleasant surprises when buying a melon are over,” said Carin Stroeken, produce chain manager of the Europe Middle East & Africa region at Bayer’s vegetable seeds business.

Bayer says the new Galkia brand instead marks a return to the rich aroma and flavour of the time-honoured melon, and one which meets the demands of today’s markets “at every step of the value chain.”

Exclusive ripeness indicator

Harvesting Galkia melons at their ideal flavour and firmness is simple because this is when their skins turn from green to yellow. Bayer says this innovative ripeness indicator is the secret behind its guarantee that its melons will always taste like melons. It also means they reach Northern European markets at their optimum point of ripeness, throughout summer.

“One of our strengths is to work closely with each part of the food chain and the supply chain to understand and anticipate their demands,” Stroeken said. “Our customers can rely on the best quality. No surprises here!”

Galkia is being grown in different parts of Spain, such as Almeria, Murcia and La Mancha, to ensure summer-long supply – from early June to the end of September. Three Galkia varieties will be available this summer: Kirene, Kinder and Kinetic.

Bayer also has projects underway that would see Galkia varieties grown in the Southern Hemisphere, further increasing its availability.

Image courtesy of Bayer Crop Science

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UK market sweet on honeydew, galia melons

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.

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).

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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.

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Patent for Syngenta melons that stay on vine longer

New melon plants whose fruit stays on the vine longer are the subject of a new patent for Syngenta Participations AG.

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.



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Cutting-edge melon innovations at HM.Clause


The leading player in melon breeding once again hosted a special melon event in Murcia in early July, well attended by major melon European traders.  The event also provided an excellent platform for exchanging views about market expectations and consumer trends. Some varieties in particular garnered significant interest from the visitors. Among them is Karman, a LSL Charentais variety well-known for its attractive looks and great taste – but also the 2014 novelty Soliman, which retains Karman’s best qualities, but is better adapted for the earlier slot thanks to its larger fruit size. The LSL Galia range also caught our visitors’ eye.  At the top of the list was Capoeira, a reliable melon increasing in the overseas season, especially in Brazil – not forgetting Lambada for Murcia, which produces high marketable yield of attractive, sweet melons. SAPHIR, a unique variety, was also much appreciated by melon lovers and gourmets.

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Frutas Escrig, renowned for its quality


Frutas Escrig has spent the last 40 years dedicating itself to the marketing and distribution of fresh fruit to wholesalers. Specializing in oranges, clementines, melons and watermelons Frutas Escrig has increased its own production by 10% over the past year. This family firm which has facilities of 7000m2 in Faura near Valencia has shops in Madrid and Barcelona and with its top quality brand Escrig gourmet doing well in France, Belgium, Italy and Germany as well as in Canada and Brazil, Frutas Escrig has launched its new “La Sofia” brand as yet another top quality brand to join Escrig Gourmet and Escrig Hermanos which are already two of the most renowned citrus brands in Europe. Last year 28,000 tonnes of produce were sold of which 40% were oranges, 30% mandarins, 15% watermelons, 10% melons and 5% lemons and kaki persimmons. There was an increase in exports of lemons to France, oranges to Holland and blood oranges to Europe in general. Frutas Escrig will continue to import Orri clementines from Israel as well as oranges from Southern Hemisphere in their continuing quest to provide customers with citrus fruit all year round, inclusive from Peru.

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France: the top melon purchaser

Intra-EU imports have been continuing their upward trend since 2011, with Spain still the official supplier in Europe for the EU-28. In 2013, these imports came to 592,288 tons, 0.5% more than in 2012 (588,758 t in total) and 24% more than in 2011 (536,928 t). Spain, accounting for over 60% of these, is still the leading European country exporting this fruit. In 2013, it exported 373,140 t of melons (worth nearly €283 million), ten thousand more than in 2012 (363,447 t) and nearly 40,000 tons more than in 2011 (335,439 t). 
France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Portugal are the main destinations dominating intra-EU melon imports. As one can see, 8 of the EU-28 countries monopolize nearly 85% of these imports, above all France in 2013 with 123,000 t, 5% up on 2012. For its part, Germany ranks as the second destination, growing less than France with 1% annual growth in 2013 compared to the previous year. In other locations, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, growth from 2012 to 2013 was around 4%. Overall, the 8 major intra-European destinations for European melons have seen growth every year since 2011. Only in Italy has it decreased, especially between 2012 and 2013, from 26,000 tons to 22,000 (14% less), most certainly because its domestic production grew. 
As for the source countries for the imports, Spain continues to lead the ranking, with 373,140 t in 2013; 10,000 more than in 2012 and 38,000 more than in 2011. The Netherlands is following the same upward trend. It is the second largest melon exporter within the EU-28 with 103,000 tons in 2013, similar to the 2012 figure. Third come Germany, France and Italy with very similar numbers. Germany exported just over 28,000 tons in 2013, France 29,000 t and Italy 26,000 t. 

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Charentais proves key to Soldive’s success

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French producer is experiencing considerable sales growth in international markets, thanks principally to demand for Charentais melons
France’s Soldive is primarily known for being a specialist in the production of yellow Charentais melons, producing around 33,000 tonnes of the fruit every year principally in regions of Languedoc and Poitou-Charentes, but also in Spain, Morocco and Senegal.
However, melons are far from Soldive’s only product as the company also produces a range of herb and salad products from its sites in Morocco and Spain, inclusing spinach, rocket, corander, mint, dil, parsley and basil.
In terms of Charentais production, Soldive on average markets 23,000 tonnes from its two French production sites, followed by 6,000 tonnes from Spain, 2,500 tonnes from Morocco and 1,000 tonnes from Senegal.
With Charentais, Soldive’s strategy is very much international in focus, with the company exporting not just across Europe, but also to Russia, Asia and the Middle East. “Soldive has a development approach to exports,” says a spokesperson for the company. “We want to increase our activity more and more and to promote our product in the international markets.” According to the company, Soldive’s focus for the Chanterais is on delivering a recognisably French type of melon, full of flavour, which projects the image of French quality at and international level. “Our strategy for the international markets is to offer high quality melon, which is not known in some countries,” said the spokesperson. “The taste of the yellow Charentais is not comparable to a cantaloupe or a green charentais. This is a melon sweet and aromatic.” By contrast, some 90% of Soldive’s winter salads and herbs are sold within the domestic French market, with the remainder exported to nearby countries including the UK, Germany and Switzerland.
As well as organising seasonal promotions, the company is also a regular at the Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin, Germany, where this year it will be present in Hall 21 – C01.
Soldive will also be using its appearance at the exhibition to highlight ‘Tradition’, a premium melon range created in 2010 which aims to select and pack extra quality fruit. In addition, the company is keen to emphasise that all its production sites are certified under the GlobalG.A.P. and LEAF quality standards.
Although it has its headquarters in the French town of Brie, Soldive says it is very much aware of its ethical responsibilities in the countries where it has a production presence, maintaining an active interest in charitable causes.
One example is Senegal, where the company recently took part in the of a school near St Louis where some of our melons are grown, while it has also worked to help the surrounding population with access to drinking water.
Working with Plan International, Soldive also helped provide funding for a surgical procedure in France for a young Senegalese girl, Aissata who suffers from rheumatic heart disease. Following a successful procedure, the firm said the young girl was able to return to Senegal in December last year.


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Melons with added value: Procomel’s new commitment

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Also known as the “Grandfather of Melons” because it has existed since 1928, Procomel saw total production in 2013 of 21,000 tonnes, 17% more than the previous year. For 2014, their objectives are “to continue to grow steadily and create a melon with added value,” says Juan Peñalver, the president of Procomel. The idea is to grow melons that give some extra characteristics such as vitamin C, beta-carotene and antioxidants. The company from Murcia, known for its piel de sapo melon, has also revealed its intention of cultivating new formats such as a mini piel de sapo melon.
Some time ago they developed their own Super Baby range, which “despite being more expensive to produce,” says Juan Peñalver, “has done very well, especially in Europe.” These are melons whose main characteristic is their taste, with 16-17 degrees Brix. Sugar Baby Gold is particularly noteworthy, their jewel in the crown with an orange flesh and crunchy texture. In 2013, this small range increased its sales by 20%, “and the forecast for 2014 is better,” said Procomel’s president. “The range does better in Europe than in Spain,” he adds, “but when Spanish consumers try it they take to it.”  A few years ago, Procomel decided to grow melons outside Spain to supply them year-round with the same quality and varieties. Senegal and Brazil were the chosen destinations, and they hope to expand this production, which accounts for 15% of the total. “We will continue to expand in Africa since the conditions are very good,” says Juan Peñalver. “There are fewer pests and it is logistically closer.”  Procomel has also opted for an organic range. In 2013 they sold them for the first time, producing 2,000 tons. As for exports, their goal is to strengthen their main market, Europe, and to try to make headway in the UAE, “although it will be hard because ours is a very typically Spanish melon,” says Juan Peñalver.  Another goal for 2014 is to begin a new adventure with their “Grandpa’s Corner.” The Murcian firm wants to introduce new quality products, not just melons as until now, in order to generate appreciation for new horticultural products that stand out for their organoleptic qualities.

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Fruca: 50,000 tons of melons and 110 million heads of lettuce

The Murcian group is maintaining its melon crop plans for the spring, with the aim of exporting about 50,000 tons. Meanwhile, it continues to diversify its supply, which includes 15,000 tons of Galia melons, 12,000 of the yellow variety, 7,000 Cantaloupe and 2,000 Charentais. Their piel de sapo melon exports come to just 2,000 tons of highly selected and half-size melons, between 1 and 2 kg per piece, and with more than 12º Brix. Their sole destination is Northern Europe. Their watermelon range is also one of the widest, with white seeded varieties, yellow and red fleshed, black seedless, mini blacks and whites, with or without seeds. “We supply the whole of Europe and Russia, with some going overseas to the UAE, for example,” explains their sales manager Jose Canovas. 
Their supply of lettuce comes to 110 million pieces from 2,500 ha of crops.