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Prolonging the season with Naturcover Melon

The market is increasingly demanding melons outside the months when they are harvested, so it is useful to be able to store them at the end of the season in order to sell them when there is no longer any crop in the field.

The Decco R&D team has developed a treatment to protect the melon skin against oxidation and ageing and reduce rot development. Naturcover Melon is an edible coating that is applied to the surface of the melons to preserve their fresh appearance during marketing and delay the appearance of senescence symptoms. Decco has received very positive feedback from clients who have treated their fruit with Naturcover Melon, as the melons present a considerably better appearance at the end of the storage period, allowing them to be marketed as top quality fruit.

Treatment with Naturcover Melon reduces weight loss and delays the emergence of signs of skin senescence such as excessive yellowing and ochre patches without giving an artificial shine, so it maintains the natural look of the fruit. Naturcover

Melon application is also synergic with fungicide treatment, which considerably reduces the percentage of rots. In some markets it is useful to be able to give the melon a shine to increase its attractiveness. Applying Citrashine Melon when the fruit is packed highlights its colour, cleanness and finish, differentiating the melons the purchasers see.

Another melon treatment that has been showing great results for several seasons now is Deccoshield, a fluid dispersion of micronised calcium carbonate that reduces the stress the crops suffer at high temperatures, an increasingly important protection owing to the steadily hotter summers we are experiencing because of climate change. Its foliar application protects against sunscald, reduces high temperature stress and acts as a barrier against fungi such as mildew and oidium and against chewing parasites.

This article first appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here:

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Agroponiente re-extends melon trading till at least September

Black and striped watermelon, seeded or seedless, renowned for their great taste and fleshy consistency, and Christmas, Canary, Cantaloupe and Galia melons are the product varieties back in supply this season

Agroponiente is starting up its melon campaign, with the marketing calendar to be extended again until September.

Black and striped watermelon, seeded or seedless, renowned for their great taste and fleshy consistency, and Christmas, Canary, Cantaloupe and Galia melons are the product varieties back in supply this season. The firm’s Gold Quality, Hortni and Fashion brands in watermelon and Bombón de Agroponiente in melon are again synonymous with quality and taste, thanks to professional supervision of cutting times.

As to harvesting dates this season, Agroponiente sales director Manuel Martínez Daza said collection times will be earlier this year for melon and watermelon due to the weather conditions. This will mean “more supply for our customers in two products which are also in increasing demand for more months of the year.”

Above all, Agroponiente is committed to quality and taste in melon and watermelon. “Yet another challenge involved extending all that philosophy and production structure in time, and in recent campaigns we’ve succeeded, while also achieving an improved supply for our customers, who can now enjoy Agroponiente melon and watermelon for months longer,” Martinez Daza said.

Taste, quality and cutting control are key elements in Agroponiente’s management. “Controlling the date and the type of cut, both for melon and watermelon, is a key concept for these two seasonal fruits,” said Ángel López, head of Agroponiente’s technical department.

On all Agroponiente’s plots and farms, melon and watermelon are harvested by the company’s professional cutters at just the right time pinpointed as ideal to achieve the maximum degree of ripeness and flavour. This is the result of a long process and painstaking care of crop development, monitoring all the dates and degrees of ripeness on each farm.

“We have a reputation to maintain and prestigious brands, so this process is critical to achieve the quality level we are committed to bring to our customers,” López said.

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Melons: a lucrative staple of EU fruit trade

Total melon imports within the European Union, including watermelon and papayas, last year reached a value of €1 billion and a volume of 1.7 million tons

Total melon imports within the European Union, including watermelon and papayas, last year reached a value of €1 billion and a volume of 1.7 million tons

The value of watermelon imports in the EU last year – €485.78 million – was almost equal to the €489.93 million total for imports of all other melon types combined. But the 1.09 million ton volume of watermelons imported was almost double that of the 599,339 tons total for all other other melons, revealing a considerable difference in value. While overall the melon trade remains mostly within the EU, for watermelons it is more mixed, with imports and exports to non-EU countries as well. In 2015, the perfect combination of weather, supply and consumption occurred in June and July, keeping prices and sales volumes high.

The market is becoming more EU-focused

Compared to 2014, European melon production and imports were lower in 2015, which allowed for a quite stable market and a slight rise in prices. Companies have released many innovations in the melon category, such as seedless or mini-varieties, packaging and in ready-to-eat products. Such innovations are important for the European market. The most important drivers for melons consumption are taste and convenience. According to a CBI (Confederation of British Industry) report, the EU imported 1.2 million tons of watermelons and 1 million tons of other melon varieties in 2014.

Developing countries the top suppliers

Within the EU, Spain is by far the largest melon exporter (especially watermelon), followed by Greece and Italy. France and Italy specialise in other melon varieties. However, every year extra-EU supplies from developing countries are increasing, especially from Costa Rica, Morocco, Brazil, Panama and Turkey. While most of the EU’s melons are sourced and sold within the EU, those from non-EU countries traded at higher prices in 2015. This is illustrated by the fact that imports from outside the EU represented 37% of the volume of melon sales in the EU yet a higher 49% of the value.

The EU’s main melon importers are Germany, France and the UK, which together account for 75% of total EU melon imports. Germany imported 475,251 tons of melons for a total value of €299.3 million, France imported a total volume of 257,697 tons for a value €164.6 million and the UK 136,480 tons for €82.8 million. About 70% of the EU’s melon trade takes place in summer. For instance, of the 482,264 tons of melons imported into the EU last year, 30% took place in July.

An extended peak season

Intra-EU imports of melons reached 599,339 tons in 2015 for a total value of €489.94 million. The main melon importers within the EU are Germany and France, for respective values of €106.8 million and €102.47 million. Extra-EU imports totalled 330,060 tons. The vast bulk of trade in melons take place over 3-4 months, with the peak period starting in late May and the last big volume of imports in September.


Intra-EU imports of watermelon reached 1.09 million tons in 2015. The biggest watermelon importer inside the EU is Germany, which represents almost 50% of total intra-EU imports (€178.2 million).

July is the peak season by far for the watermelon trade (over 350,000 tons for intra-EU ). Extra-EU imports totalled 260,001 tons (47% of intra-EU imports).


Watermelon image thanks to stux via Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)

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Francescon boosts off-season production in Senegal

Francescon’s off-season began at the end of February with the arrival of cantaloupe melons from Senegal, where it directly farms 120 ha, equating to 4,000 tons of product.

While the melon season is still a long way off in the Northern Hemisphere, in other parts of the world it is already in full swing due to more favourable climate conditions, allowing the Italian market to be supplied even during the off season.

Margherita Avigni, head of exports for the producer organisation Francescon, said its off-season began at the end of February with the arrival of cantaloupe melons from Senegal, where it directly farms 120 ha, equating to 4,000 tons of product.

“We are now in our fourth year of marketing Senegalese product in Italy and Europe: 80% goes to Italian retailers and the remainder to other countries in Europe. You could even say that we are beginning to reap the first fruits of our labour, particularly thanks to a higher price than the average for other imported melons, which is a sign that there are chains that are prepared to pay something more for a quality product,” Avigni said.

Francescon guarantees this quality using the know-how it has amassed in its over 30 years of experience of bi-weekly transportation, by sea for the most part but also by air. “After two years of sales, the Senegalese product, which conforms to the technical profile and is managed by our own team, has already permitted significant increases in yield per hectare. We have also made use of our know-how to increase the local workforce, thus optimising our working method with regards to Fair Trade practice.”

And it hasn’t taken long for this labour to bear fruit: “Our team’s experience has allowed us to anticipate the calendar, meaning we can supply melons to our clients continuously from the end of February until well into October,” Avigni said.

Founded in 1968 in Rodigo, Mantua, Francescon is Italy’s largest melon producer organisation, the undisputed national leader, and yet it is still able to keep its management structure strictly within the family. Francescon’s farms are mostly located in and around Mantua, but also in Agrigento, Sicily, and for the past three years in Senegal too, from where it sources its melons for the winter season.

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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).

MELON queso variedad % valor.png

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.

Screenshot 2015-05-28 at 18.01.07.png


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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.