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Fresh melon 7 months a year thanks to diversification in Senegal
How would it be possible to anticipate two months in advance the supply of fresh melons on the foreign and Italian markets with a quality produce comparable to that harvested during summer? The answer according to the Francescon OP, located in Rodigo (Lumbardy), is the "Senegal Project".
As the company managers explain, "the project was born between 2011 and 2012, with a first test production in Senegal on approximately 60 hectares and an expected harvest of 2,000,000 kg between March and April 2013."
Melons cultivated in Senegal, of the Cantalupo variety, are shipped to Europe by air (delivery time: 1 day) or by sea (delivery time: 8 days). "This way, we can offer an alternative product to that coming from Brazil, Costa Rica, etc. The latter usually requires 20 day shipping times and, therefore, it doesn't have the ideal organoleptic profile or a high Brix level (sugar content), as melons must be harvested a few days before they are fully ripe, let's say when they're 80-90% ripe."
The Francescon PO deals directly with production in Senegal, in collaboration with a Spanish farmer who is already producing melons and watermelons destined for Spain. Production techniques follow Franceson's guidelines.
The produce, which is pre-refrigerated on site, travels loose in bins and is packed in Italy under the Francescon brand as required by the client (carton-boxes, RCP, Ifco, etc.). Melons from Senegal are destined mainly to the Italian market, according to agreements made with national mass retailing, and only a small part goes abroad.
Thanks to productive diversification, the Francescon melon supply calendar now covers 7 months a year: they start with the produce from Senegal (end of March to end of April), then they continue with that from Sicily (approximately 100 hectares, end of April to the end of May) and they end the season harvesting melons in the North of Italy (approximately 900 hectares, from the end of May to the beginning of October).
As regards the current commercial season, the company managers explain how "despite the awful weather of the last period, sales are good, especially in those distribution chains where fliers have been planned with special offers to encourage consumers to try melons from Senegal. As they're exceptional, and actually better than the Italian ones, they're selling quite a lot."
Via Retenago, 13
46040 Rodigo (MN) - Italy
Tel.: +39 0376 650727
Fax: +39 0376 684777
Publication date: 4/3/2013
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