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Syngenta Seed the top of the range selection in melons

In the watermelon category, particularly for seedless types, research is focusing on adjusting the sizes to obtain smaller fruit and on a definite improvement in eating quality.

The seed company presented its novelties for the European, African and Middle Eastern markets during a three-day technical session at Torre Pacheco.  

The 300 people attending the technical session at Torre Pacheco, the melon capital, who had come mainly from Europe but also from Central America, Mexico, Israel, Algeria and Egypt, showed definite interest in the 120 varieties being presented (80 melons and 40 watermelons). The Syngenta team was there to listen to them.

“We have had a lot of requests for melons with very different eating profiles, colours, shapes and tastes,” said the breeder Matthew Kinkade, Breeding Project Lead – Watermelon, who had come from the California office. The information Syngenta collects allows it to redirect its research according to all their needs and to offer varieties to suit each geographical area and type of market. For this reason, the group has a network of experimenters who conduct trials throughout the world.

Innovation along two lines

There are two main reasons for creating new varieties. “For a start, each year we improve pest and disease resistance, yields and post-harvest conservation, depending on local needs,” explained Philippe Chatin, the Marketing Manager for Europe, Africa and the Middle East. As well as this purely agricultural aspect there is innovation as such, which takes market developments, influenced by consumers and distributors, into account. This involves differentiation in terms of skin colour, flesh colour, shape and, most particularly, eating quality.

Fresh-cut watermelon leader

In the watermelon category, particularly for seedless types, research is focusing on adjusting the sizes to obtain smaller fruit and on a definite improvement in eating quality. Kasmira and Red Jasper are among Syngenta’s flagship varieties, as they have set a new benchmark for eating quality. Prestige, a small -sized fruit, is a major innovation in its segment because it keeps very well and tastes superb.

The multinational has also recently launched Crisp Delight, which is used for fresh-cut fruit and has made the group a leader in the segment, which is growing by 7% a year. “We have a unique research programme that aims to satisfy the entire value chain with a product that leaves little waste at the factory and sheds little liquid into the pack, while remaining juicy and well -coloured for consumers,” said Jérémie Chabanis, the Value Chain Strategic Partnership Lead. The red-fleshed variety is already on the market and a yellow-fleshed variety is under development to provide an alternative to pineapple or mango in fruit salads.

Repositioning Piel de Sapo melons

While the watermelon market is on top form, the melon market has seen a 30% drop in production over the past five years. To halt this trend, the sector needs to get moving. Syngenta is working on new sizes, flesh colours, skin colours and premium varieties, and even on different flavours, such as Gwanipa, a slightly tangy melon that the company launched a few years ago. Prominent among the 80 new varieties are Valerio, an Italian-American melon for open field crops; Gharam and Marques, two Galia-type varieties for which Syngenta has preferred to opt for a short-distance (domestic market) shelf life rather than lengthy conservation in order to prioritise the traditional Galia melon taste; Arpon and Tazha, two Charentais types that currently offer the best resistance to water soaking; and the Piel de Sapo types Armero, Velasco, Jimenado and Dominio, which have allowed Syngenta to return to the market as a specialist in this segment.

As regards future innovations, “they are still directed towards improving the flesh, between very juicy, firmer or less firm, and above all towards making the flavour more consistent over all the varieties throughout the season,” Jérémie Chabanis added. Consistent eating quality is the seed companies’ big challenge, to keep up the level of consumer satisfaction. A consumer who has been disappointed by a melon will turn away from this fruit and will take between 5 and 10 weeks to buy another.

Real synergies throughout the sector

The social environment is evolving fast and types of consumption are changing. Syngenta is highly committed to this, with the backing of sector buyers who are also familiar with the consumers. Syngenta presents varieties to the specialists during technical days, organises product tastings and in-store trials to test consumer reactions, and supports retailers with marketing and merchandising approaches to launch the products. All these actions generate real synergies to improve the entire sector and satisfy consumers.

VL        

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Surge in cantaloupe sales in the US

Driven by a nearly 57% increase in the number of cantaloupes sold, overall retail sales of melons in the United States grew 8% year-on-year in volume in the 52 weeks to May 28 to reach over 2.2 billion.

Driven by a nearly 57% increase in the number of cantaloupes sold, overall retail sales of melons in the United States grew 8% year-on-year in volume in the 52 weeks to May 28 to reach over 2.2 billion pounds.

But against this backdrop, Nielsen data also shows that the spend on the melon category nevertheless went the other way, slipping 0.3% over the same period, though staying above the $1.12 billion mark.

Within the category it is the watermelon that generated the vast majority – nearly 81% –  of melon sales, though just over 63% of the category’s overall value. Compared to the previous year, watermelon sales in the US were up 2% in volume, to over 1.77 billion pounds, but 0.2% was shaved off last year’s spend.

Meanwhile, cantaloupe sales increased 56.7% to the to the tune of 357 million pounds but despite such a robust upswing they too went the other way when it came to value, drifting down 0.2% to $708.6 million. Cantaloupe held a 29% share of the total melon spend off just a 16% share of the total volume sold.

The honeydew melon went the other way as the watermelon and cantaloupe, in the sense that the sales volume inched down – by 1.6%, though staying above 58 million pounds – while the spend rose, gaining 4.7% to reach $74 million.

Specialty melons showed the strongest dollar growth and they alone logged gains in both value and volume on last year, but this sub-category accounts for only a very small slice of melon sales in either value (1.92%) or volume (under 0.5%). Specifically, specialty melon sales rose 10.2% in volume to under 10.6 million pounds and 9.7% in spend to $13.6 million.

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Cano Nature or the Soleil Royal highly select melon

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The company from Murcia has continued its development as a recognised specialist in Charentais highly select melons since 1968. Its renowned brand Soleil Royal is recognised by panels of French consumers annually among the Charentais melon brands of greatest flavour. It also produces artichokes and broccoli in the winter under the Vita Vert brand. “We grow 400 ha of melons and 25 ha in greenhouses, exporting for 4 months from April 15 to the end of September,” said company head Asdrubal Cano. It supplies several big French and Belgian distribution chains and has also begun to enter other European markets. “German and Swiss chains are showing increasing interest in great-tasting melons,” Cano said. Since April last year, the family company has been in new facilities located between Cartagena and San Javier, in the heart of the main Spanish melon-growing area. Passionate about quality, Asdrubal Cano is seen to be extremely demanding in the selection of varieties and products. “We always strive to exceed the customers’ expectations in flavour and aromas. In fact, we gain our customers’ loyalty by giving them satisfaction,” he said.

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Bruno focuses on medium-small sizes

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Melons are the items that have seen the most growth out of all of Bruno SRL’s products in recent years, having grown almost six times since starting out. Sales director Corrado Pacchetti said it has been working on melons for around four years now and has gone from 0.7 to 4.5 million kg in volume. “Initially, we started out with just Verona melons and then spread to the regions of Mantua, Tuscany, Apulia and Lazio: this allows us to work with late-harvest products. Despite the merging of new producers entering the market from outside of Verona, at the moment we are in standby mode, with largely the same quantities as last year because the market is saturated. We are continuing to concentrate our exports on large retail organisations, and at the moment we are seeking to break through among the real giants,” he said. And the focus on large retail organisations also has an effect on the varieties that the company works with. “Large retail organisations are demanding medium-small varieties because it’s difficult to sell melons with very large dimensions: we’re hovering around 1.5-1.8 kg. That is why we’re starting with the Gaudio variety and then moving on to Macigno and Sogno, all cantaloupes, and then the 5448 and the 9424,” Pacchetti said.

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El Abuelo working on new varieties of melons

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“The melon has always been the flagship product for our crops and 13 years ago we decided to get together and market our own product,” stressed Salvador Lopez Buendia. This is a company made up of families of farmers who have fields in different parts of the world. Right now they are working on their own plantations in Spain, Brazil and Senegal, enabling them to offer the best melons and watermelons all year, without losing any of the products’ characteristics, keeping all the flavour and texture of the best melons. The plantations cover 1,200-1,300 ha, giving a volume of 45 million kg, especially of the Piel de Sapo variety. The aim for 2016 is to consolidate what has been started over these years and their presence in Europe, Asia and America, as well as to develop in the area of researching new varieties. “In fact, we have a Sugar Baby, which is yellow on the outside and orange inside. It’s a very tasty, very particular melon, unlike any other type. Moreover, within this range of melons, we have 2 projects to be presented in 2016.” As for new items requested by its customers, El Abuelo has also launched other fruits such as pomegranates, persimmons, red seedless grapes and tomatoes, which after several trials have achieved the desired quality. 

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Vegacañada renews its commitment to melon taste & quality

Once again this year, Vegacañada’s Christmas melons will be reaching the markets under the prestigious ‘Dulce de Vega’ brand, which also represents its black and white watermelons, both traditional and seedless, as well as the Fashion watermelon, the prestigious brand that the company trades as a member of the Fashion Group Association (AGF).

Late melon production will be higher than the early varieties this season and Vegacañada is again committed to top quality and maximum flavour in both lines.

In principle, the higher melon production volume will be delayed several weeks compared to previous campaigns, while a certain preponderance of late watermelon crops is also expected, although to a lesser extent than in melon, said Manuel Soto, Field Department director at Vegacañada.

 “Our work ranges from planning the plantations to calculating volumes and dates, so that our farmers are always well attended at all stages of the process,” Soto said.

This statement was seconded by commercial director Andrés Soler. “We also provide ongoing information to our customers so they can plan their relationship with the markets and work with the smallest possible margin of error. All of this along with strict control of quality, where flavour is a crucial element,” Soler said.

Choosing the right time to cut the fruit, ensuring it coincides with the optimum degree of brightness, means that each individual piece has better flavour and higher value. Vegacañada has been working seriously and efficiently this way jointly with farmers for several years.

“The cut is important in the short- and long-term,” explained Vegacañada technical manager Antonio Algarra. “In the short term, items cut properly and at the right time get better reviews. And in the long-term, it will be this quality that ensures the prestige of our brands, both melon and watermelon, as well as of our region of Almeria,” Algarra said.

Once again this year, Vegacañada’s Christmas melons will be reaching the markets under the prestigious ‘Dulce de Vega’ brand, which also represents its black and white watermelons, both traditional and seedless, as well as the Fashion watermelon, the prestigious brand that the company trades as a member of the Fashion Group Association (AGF).

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Jimbofresh brings back the traditional melon taste

Okashi is a traditional Galia melon but with a unique taste, an intense aroma and unbeatable quality characteristics

Taste, freshness, juicy flesh, health… and especially the desire to recapture the old flavour experience still remembered so well today, when each fruit had its own special flavour.

To succeed in this requires the knowledge and unique dedication of the very best growers of Jimbofresh, passing on their secrets from generation to generation, giving consumers the traditional melon taste which the older among us remember with such nostalgia. These are the growers who offer the exceptional Okahsi melon.

“Okashi is a traditional Galia melon but with a unique taste, an intense aroma and unbeatable quality characteristics. This is only achieved through a philosophy of hard work and an exclusive devotion to cultivation. Love and care for the produce, together with a great deal of patience – these are the crucial qualities which are directly influenced by the best oriental practices” said Jimbofresh managing director Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Okashi are only grown in the best production areas. The Campo de Cartagena is a perfect location which its fertile soil and mild climate. All this makes the Okashi a unique melon.

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HillFresh: Kaki expert with global ambitions

KakiFresh Nature, the Spanish harvesting and packing branch of HillFresh International has recently purchased a young kaki fruit (persimmon, Rojo Billante) plant in Spain.

KakiFresh Nature, the Spanish harvesting and packing branch of HillFresh International has recently purchased a young kaki fruit (persimmon, Rojo Billante) plant in Spain, according to a press release by HillFresh

“To meet the fast growing demand of our customers the next logical step is to start with our own plant in Spain. This way we can control things like quality and food-safety,” said Pieter de Jong at HillFresh International.

Several years ago KakiFresh entered the world of kaki fruit by harvesting products at the fruit plants, packing the product and selling it. KakiFresh now also controls the process of growing the kaki. Because of a special harvesting method KakiFresh Nature is capable of supplying a high quality kaki fruit under the HillFresh premium label “Always Tasty”.

Recently HillFresh has expanded its kaki plants to the Southern Hemisphere in order to soon be able to supply the market with kaki fruit year-round.

HillFresh International is an international enterprise founded in 2007. Its main focus is targeted on supplying kiwi, melon, grapes, citrus and kaki with an optimal taste. Products that meet HillFresh highest standards are marketed under the “Always Tasty” label.