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Central American melon season is off to a good start
Ideal weather has ensured that the start of the Central American melon season is seeing good quality and steady volume. The majority of honeydew and cantaloupe for the US market are being grown in Honduras at this time of year, with a small amount of supply from Costa Rica and Guatemala.
"All our offshore cantaloupe and honeydew are grown in Honduras at this time of year," said Justin Bootz, of Legend Produce. “Sometimes we will source product from Guatemala as well. First arrivals came into the US in late December, early January, and will continue until our domestic production begins in Arizona in April. The majority of our offshore cantaloupe are Caribbean Gold and Diamond varieties, which are cut from the vine. These varieties are widely grown to retain freshness for shipment to the US market."
"The quality has been great so far and by most accounts the weather has been ideal," he added. "There has only been a few light rains in Honduras and we're confident of a solid season ahead with steady volume."
Little competition from Mexico fruit
Retailers source cantaloupe almost exclusively from Central America in the winter, while honeydew are sourced from both Mexico and Central America. However, Bootz said growers in Mexico are still facing turbulent freight prices, which is creating high costs for them. As a result, Mexico supply of honeydew is expected to decrease over the next few weeks.
"With cantaloupe, we don't face any competition from Mexico as most retailers go for the Central American fruit," he noted. "However, more retailers do accept honeydew from Mexico, which provides greater competition, especially on the West Coast. At the start of the season, the market saw cheaper prices for honeydew out of Mexico. However, Mexican growers have been battling high freight rates, resulting in them selling at a loss. The prediction is that they will cease selling, and supply from Mexico will quiet down by the beginning of February."
Prices continue the be close to average as demand remains soft, along with overall supply. "Right now, 9 count cantaloupes are selling for between $12.00 - $12.95 which is pretty close to the average for this time of year," Bootz continued. "Demand has been moderate and is not exceeding supply. The season has only just started and, aside from the early competition for honeydew on the West Coast, it has been a good start."
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