The watermelon market is going strong in Spain. Indeed, Spaniards consume on average 8.4 kg of the fruit per year. The level of consumption has remained stable above the 8kg mark for years now, with large calibre seedless watermelon the favourite of the Spanish public. The country’s producers have enjoyed success around the globe. In 2018, Spain broke its export record by sending around 900,000 tons of watermelons abroad.
According to the association of young fruit growers of Almeria, ASAJA, prices at source of summer fruits have fallen dramatically this year. The most affected fruit is the watermelon which has seen prices paid to the farmer plummet by 82% in 10 days, reaching as little as 10 cents kg. “We have been under pressure for weeks to lower prices that were much higher than what we have been receiving in recent years and we can see that they have finally plunged,” said president of ASAJA Pascual Soler.
The cool spring temperatures delayed the start of the watermelon campaign and with productivity lower this year, prices were relatively good until the Levante area entered production and sent prices crashing. The ASAJA intends to inform AICA of the situation in the hope that the matter will be properly investigated.
Green Box it’s a family owned company that has been operating in the fruit and vegetable sector since 1924. However, it was almost thirty years ago when the Rubio’s family decided to focus in the creation of a packaging that could transport bigger capacities than a normal carton tray, being more resistant but also helping to achieve the best weight-to-load ratio.
This challenge was overcome creating a new basis in the company and since then, it has constantly been developing new Green Box models, for different markets and supermarket chains.
Creating better designs with an optimum quality, the Green Boxes have proved the best results into retails stores, improving product display and favouring product transportation over long distances, guaranteeing zero incidents.
Green Box generic designs are carefully selected and periodically renovated, that’s why they represent around the 60% of its sales.
This year, one of the best welcomed news, has been the new design for Bio watermelon which is boosting organic watermelon sales all around Europe.
On the other hand, personalised packaging sales are speeding up in the last few years. Supermarket chains don’t want to lose any opportunity of appealing to customers’ emotions through an attractive corporate images or stunning promotions.
A retrospective Fresh-Agro exhibition, to be held at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds at the end of June, will present a wide range of new and unique varieties of fruits and vegetables that will soon reach the success of all of us. So what’s new this summer in the fruit bowl?
‘Origene Seeds’ will present the unique development of all that was released this year – the Blue Pumpkin. It is unique in the color of the gray-green shell, and is suitable for cooking and soups. It also has a strong taste (a regular pumpkin has almost no taste without spices), and it excels in a long shelf life.
In the exhibition you can also watch a special type of watermelon. Further to the development of a charming watermelon, weighing up to 10 kilograms, and the little watermelon Anna, the newest species came to the medium-sized, 6-kilogram Hoya for relatively small families.
You will also find a brand new and refreshing Melon called ‘fresh dew’. Its uniqueness – high sweetness and long shelf life. The color of his shell is gray and white, and its cover is green, unlike the normal orange float.
‘Hazera’ company will introduce a new Aromato cucumber: a high quality Japanese cucumber, nigis and tasty, and something new and interesting – Dora’s tomato, which peels easily with a peeler, just like a cucumber or carrot. The DORA is a large and uniform egg-shaped tomato (rome), very smooth, bright red and with an unusually high lycopene. Another new development of the company – Angel Hotel, pineapple type, tasty and very sweet.
‘Zeraim Gedera Syngenta’ will introduce a new type of watermelon known as sweet dawn, which will provide fruit before the summer begins, and a new and unique pepper species, resistant to small soil worms that attack the roots of the bush.
Haim Allouche said about all the new products that: “We are excited every year to re-offer the new fruits and vegetables in the market. We believe in Israeli agriculture and want to empower it. We invite the general public to come and participate in the exhibition and hear from industry leaders how to reach agricultural solutions and see the latest developments in the field. Come to see the Israeli agriculture industry as a model and we are here to show this model”.
The Agrícola San Francisco co-op – Cosafra – has 500 members who came together in 1960 with a view to trading their produce through a cooperative.With 2,000 ha located in Granada, southern Spain, the campaign ended 2015 with 1.5 million kg of asparagus, 2 million kg of artichokes and 1 million kg of watermelon.
This was an increase compared to 2014, and this year is expected to turn out the same.
“In asparagus we’ve planted another 2 million, so we’re expecting bigger yields, while in artichokes we hope to reach 3 million kg,” said Cosafra chairman and manager Javier Trujillo Hidalgo.
The co-op’s main market is Germany, followed by Switzerland and Poland, among others, while in a new venture in 2015 it worked with Canada for the first time.
“Artichoke is still not fully ensconced in the European market. It’s selling in Italy and France, but we are trying to raise awareness and consolidate it in new markets,” said Cosafra chairman and manager Javier Trujillo Hidalgo.
The cooperative is GLOBALG.A.P.-certified and this year decided to go for the Grasp quality certificate, which endorses good social practices from the field to the company and to the consumer.
“We are farmers first and foremost, in body and soul; and the produce comes from the field straight to the consumer’s table,” Trujillo Hidalgo said.
The characteristic that makes Italy’s Anguria Reggiana watermelon stand out is the particularly sweet flavour of the pulp, linked to its sugar content.
The application for a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for the watermelon, published by the European Commission earlier this month, says this is thanks to a Brix value of more than 11 in the case of the Ashai Mijako type, and 12 in the case of the Crimson and Sentinel types.
The sweetness of these melons harks from the skill of the producers and the refined cultivation techniques they use, particularly at the time of harvesting or ‘picking’, it says.
“This is done in at least three visits to each plant, to ensure that every ‘Anguria Reggiana’ has fully ripened to the highest possible sugar content without being overripe, with crisp, firm flesh. The level of ripeness is shown by the visible characteristics of the rind, the footstalk and the tendril, and especially by the distinctive sound made when the watermelon is tapped with the hand. All of these external aspects can be evaluated in the field.
“Every watermelon is thus individually assessed, tapped and selected prior to harvest, and is picked only if the operator considers…it has attained the desired level of ripeness, consistency and keeping quality. The field inspection is generally carried out first thing in the morning when the watermelons have benefited from the cool of the night and are at a good storage temperature.
“The melons are picked with a billhook, a special cutting tool with a partially curved blade. This special tool has been perfected over the years so as to avoid severing the branches of the plant, which must remain in optimum physical condition until all the fruits have been picked. These operations rely on the ancient, accumulated know-how, handed down over generations, of the local pickers who can select the ripe fruit and harvest it whilst protecting subsequent production.
“The skills and knowledge of local producers arise from a long-standing tradition, which has led to a well-known association between the product and the region.”
Historical documents contain a wealth of references to watermelon cultivation in the Reggio Emilia area being a well-established, generations-old tradition.
The first mentions of its high quality date back to the 16th century; correspondence between the old courts of the Po Renaissance extol the excellence of the product cultivated in this area, the application says.
The production area includes the whole of the following municipalities: Bagnolo in Piano, Cadelbosco di Sopra, Campagnola, Castelnovo Sotto, Correggio, Fabbrico, Novellara, Poviglio, Rio Saliceto, S. Martino in Rio and parts of the following municipalities: Boretto, Brescello, Campegine, Gattatico, Gualtieri, Guastalla, Reggio Emilia, Reggiolo, Rolo and Rubiera.
Anguria Reggiana melon types
‘Anguria Reggiana’ is produced in the following types:
— round type, with the characteristics of the Ashai Mijako type: round fruit; grey-green rind with dark green stripes; firm, crisp flesh, which is bright red when fully ripe; weight varying between 5 kg and 12 kg,
— oval type, with the characteristics of the Crimson type: round, oval fruit; moderately bright green rind with dark green streaks; firm, crisp flesh, which is red when fully ripe; weight varying between 7 kg and 16 kg,
— elongated type, with the characteristics of the Sentinel type: elongated fruit; moderately bright green rind with dark green streaks; firm, crisp flesh, which is bright red when fully ripe; weight varying between 7 kg and 20 kg.
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.
Agrupalmería, a group specialising in the auction and sale of tomatoes from Almería, is renowned for the quality of its RAF, smooth, loose, pear and vine tomato varieties. In recent years the group has also been trading quality products including melon, watermelon, pepper, cucumber, aubergine, courgette and beans. Today, along with the rest of the Femago group of which it is part, it is launching the GO Veg&Fruit brand, a line including striped, black and white watermelons as well as Christmas melons. The group expects to market 15 million kg under this new brand, 75% more than last season. To achieve this, it recently opened new facilities and extended the production schedule until September. “We are very careful about what the customers want, and we always link our clients’ needs with our farmers’ lines, as each one requires a certain type of product and a differentiated service,” said Agrupalmería commercial director Leopoldo Sánchez. The Femago Group currently trades in Germany, Poland, Romania, Italy, Portugal, the UK, France, the Netherlands and the Iberian Peninsula, and is committed to increasing its exports by 20% this season.
After forty years working to achieve greater profitability for fruit, vegetables and wine, Anecoop is celebrating its anniversary with its partners in every province of Spain where Anecoop has a commercial office: Valencia, Murcia, Almería and Sevilla.
They certainly have reasons to celebrate – it is the top fruit and vegetable company in the Mediterranean, the top citrus exporter and second seller in the world, as well as the top operator for watermelons and persimmons in Europe. Its brands are present in major sales outlets in over 70 countries worldwide.
This season, Anecoop will sell about 120,000 tons of watermelons, with 40,000 of them from Almería.
It is worth remembering that in 1992 it successfully launched Bouquet in Europe, the first seedless watermelon, in one of the most remarkable achievements in Spanish horticultural experimentation.
During the 2016 campaign for Bouquet Watermelons, there will be promotional activities in France, the Czech Republic, Spain (Canary Islands) and, for the first time, in Poland and Belarus, in order to increase brand awareness. These will be specific activities on television and in the social networks, as well as tastings at events involving sports, culture and children. In Poland, the promotional activities will be carried out in various places in the Warsaw market. The total investment for this campaign comes to €500,000.
This article appeared in edition 143 (May/June 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more from that issue here: www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/143-2016-mayjune
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).