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Diego Maestre, of Rijk Zwaan: "Exports are already growing by 20% per year"

"The best opportunities for the Piel de Sapo are in the international market"

The Spanish export of Piel de Sapo melons has been increasing by around 20% per year in recent seasons, according to Rijk Zwaan, a leading company in development programs for Piel de Sapo melons for export. "The best opportunities for the Piel de Sapo are in the international market," states Diego Maestre, International Crop Coordinator Melon/Watermelon/Squash at Rijk Zwaan.

Piel de Sapo melons are increasingly demanded in Europe and in more distant markets, like Canada, Asia and the Middle East. "Asia is a growing market for the Piel de Sapo, especially Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. The next step, we hope, is China. I also believe that Piel de Sapo melons have a lot of potential in the countries of Eastern Europe if we provide a high level of Brix, since their easy handling solves many of the logistics problems of large distributors.

Bravura and Dolsura melons, with Ultra Long Trip label, of the Mellissimo range.

That is why in its next Melon and Watermelon Event 2017, held between 5 and 6 July in Murcia, Rijk Zwaan Iberica will present its two new Piel de Sapo melon varieties with an Ultra Long Trip label: the Dolsura and Bravura, which are part of its Mellissimo range of Piel de Sapo melons intended for export.

These are melons weighing about two kilos on average, which improves the strength and robustness of their predecessor, the Ricura, in the Mellissimo range, while maintaining its taste and sugar levels. "With the Dolsura and Bravura we can reach distant destinations by harvesting the fruit when it reaches 14 degrees brix without any problems arising in the trip," affirms Diego Maestre.

2 kilos is the perfect balance between profitability and convenience
Rijk Zwaan is focusing its work in trying to maintain its quality and productivity standards with the obtainment of varieties with smaller calibres, as the Piel de Sapo has always been traditionally large in Spain and today it is marketed weighing an average of between 3 and 4 kilos.

Bravura Piel de Sapo melon

"Piel de Sapo melons have always had a drawback outside of Spain, and it is the colour of their skin, unattractive compared to other varieties, and its great weight. There are markets such as the United Kingdom in which they demand melons weighting 1 kilo, as they are used to buying yellow and Galia melons. It is not that it is not possible to develop Piel de Sapo melons weighting 1 kilo, but I think that would take a great toll on the profitability of the producers. The ideal is to find a balance between profitability in the field and the marketing. We believe that, for a Piel de Sapo, this balance is achieved with a weight of 2 kilos without compromising consumer convenience. The fact is that the Dolsura and Bravura get the same yields in the field as larger calibre melons," highlights the expert.

Reduction of melon acreage for domestic market
"This year, there will be a reduction in the acreage of Piel de Sapo melons intended for the domestic market. There is still little innovation in the consumption of melons in Spain, and there are many production peaks when demand is stabilised, although it should be noted that this year the Spanish campaign is preceded by a satisfactory off-season Piel de Sapo campaign, with very good quality, which should help boost consumption," explains Diego Maestre.

In Spain, there has been a considerable increase in the consumption of watermelons in recent years, as a very stable quality standard has been maintained, which is the result of the growers having learned to better schedule the harvest. For this reason, Diego Maestre believes that "if we achieve the same standard with Piel de Sapo melons, we could manage to give demand a boost in Spain." Rijk Zwaan will present its new Mesura Piel de Sapo melon for the domestic market.

Yellow melon acreage grows in Spain
While the acreage devoted to Galia melons in Spain continues to fall significantly and the orange-fleshed varieties remain at similar levels compared to the previous season, the acreage devoted to yellow melons is growing remarkably, according to Diego Maestre.

New Kechal yellow melon for the Moroccan market. It offers very high yields and a good taste, with a weight of up to 3 kilos

"We could be talking about approximately 10% more yellow melons this year. The production of yellow melons is rebounding significantly in Spain, especially in Murcia and Castile-La Mancha. Yellow melon importers, mainly in the United Kingdom, Germany or the Netherlands, are realising that the Spanish product has greatly improved its quality standards in recent years, so they are expanding the programs with Spanish exporters. The stability of prices in recent campaigns also greatly encourages Spanish growers to plant this melon."

For more information:
Elisabeth Expósito
Rijk Zwaan Ibérica S.A.
Ctra Viator-PJ.Mami, S/N
04120 Almeria. Spain
T +34 950 62 61 90 - Ext. 105

Publication date: 5/17/2017


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