Rijk Zwaan’s global melon & watermelon event
Interesting new innovations for the fresh melon chain
Melon growers, dealers, processing companies and retailers from all over the world are showing an interest in innovations such as the yellow watermelon called Tropical Sunshine and the useful ‘ready to eat’ harvesting indicator. Although the coronavirus crisis has substantially disrupted the market in recent months, the chain is still optimistic about the future. Rijk Zwaan held its online global melon & watermelon event from 29 June to 10 July. It attracted hundreds of attendees from across all continents, giving them the opportunity to share their experience and expertise with one another.
Digital event for international customers
This year, the vegetable breeding company’s Spanish subsidiary – Rijk Zwaan Ibérica – was forced to organise the event as a virtual edition. As a result, it was unfortunately impossible to test and taste the existing and new melon varieties of the Piel de Sapo, Ananas, Yellow, Galia, Cantaloupe and Charentais types at Rijk Zwaan’s demo field in CED La Palma, Cartagena, Spain for non-Spanish customers. However, the digital event – which included 14 crop talks, numerous webinars and even virtual trial visits – had its advantages too. “It was more international and easier to take part than ever. The digital crop talk on Cantaloupe attracted participants from 25 different countries, including Australia, the USA and Thailand,” says Vincent van Wolferen, Crop Coordinator Melon & Watermelon.
Increased focus on fresh and healthy
During the webinars on 7 and 8 July, experts shared their insights into the trends and developments in the melon market. The coronavirus crisis offers new opportunities for fresh and healthy products according to Cindy van Rijswick, Senior Research Global Analyst at Rabobank: “Consumers are increasingly looking for healthy food such as fresh fruit.” The coronavirus crisis has also boosted home cooking. Fresh meal kits have become very popular, creating more new chances for fruit and vegetables – including melons. Cindy van Rijswick also outlined some potential risks associated with the harvesting and processing of fruit and vegetables, stating that companies are reassessing the deployment of labour and that growers might be considering the increased use of mechanisation and automation.
In another webinar, Hans-Cristoph Behr from Agrarmarkt Informations highlighted the increasing consumption of melons and watermelons in the EU. “Innovations in the melon category – such as seedless watermelons and smaller varieties – support category growth, as does the popularity of melons and watermelons among the younger generation,” he said. Marián Garcia, a lecturer at Isabel I University in Spain, explored the trends in melon consumption during her webinar. She emphasised the importance of colour: “We have to realise that consumers are identifying certain colours with the ripening of a fruit. We need to achieve those impressions and colours.”
As yellow as candy
The watermelons sold under Rijk Zwaan’s Tropical label are a good fit with that trend, according to Van Wolferen: “We too have heard that there’s a need for more colour in the fresh produce category, and that’s relevant for both the sale of whole melons and for the fruit salad market. The Tropical Sunshine watermelon has bright yellow flesh and it looks amazing. It’s just like candy! The colour of the skin is equally important, because that can entice consumers to buy more melons. And if the quality is good, repeat purchases will follow.”
Better quality and easier to harvest
During the event, Rijk Zwaan also shared the latest insights into an innovation aimed at further safeguarding the average quality level of melons: ready-to-eat Cantaloupes. Van Wolferen: “Our breeders have selected a number of long-shelf-life, ready-to-eat varieties that are harvested at just the right time so that they don’t have to be ripened at home. The melons indicate when they are ready to be harvested, either by turning a slightly creamy colour or by developing a ring around their stem. These traits are not only beneficial for consumers, but also for growers because their employees know exactly when it’s the right time to harvest the Cantaloupes. Now that labour is such a critical issue, this is a very welcome innovation.”
The melon event is well aligned with Rijk Zwaan’s focus on supporting growers and partners in their efforts to produce, distribute and/or process fresh fruit and vegetables. Based on the very latest market insights, we are keen to help the fresh produce chain to adapt to the ‘new economy’ by offering tailor-made, relevant and applicable advice and solutions. Keen to know more? Take a look at this article about the future expectations.