In recent weeks, due to the end of the Brazilian campaign and the slight delay in the start of the Spanish campaign because of the abundant rains and mild temperatures, there has been little availability of melon in the market, although the situation is already changing.
The Spanish company Melón de Autor is one of the few in the sector with its own farms in both countries, and this year, it is launching a new Piel de Sapo variety, which they have named Dulcinea, developed exclusively for them by Rijk Zwan for its cultivation in Spain.
"Melons are a very brand-oriented product, and we believe that to protect a brand's reputation, it is necessary to control the whole process, from seed to shelf. We are working with large distribution chains with a high degree of satisfaction. Our goal is to distribute Dulcinea melons for 9 months, guaranteeing homogeneity in terms of both quality and flavour, so that we can earn the trust of consumers," says Jordi Valle, manager of Melón de Autor.
"However, we believe that we must always be honest with our customers and the fruit has to be sorted in Premium, First or Standard quality, since the field is always unpredictable and unforeseen events may occur. We keep in touch with them to inform them about the forecasts, in case the weather conditions are adverse, or about the possible presence of diseases, for example, and then let them decide. The fact is that, rather than a product, we are offering a service," says Jordi Valle. "We understand that we have to offer the best possible product with as much information as possible and at the fairest price," he adds.
Brazil and Spain, the only possible origins for a good Piel de Sapo
"We have lived for ten years in Brazil, where we have our own land to grow our melons. This allows us to have melons available all year round, because when we finish the harvest in Brazil, we switch to the Spanish one. In Brazil, Piel de Sapo melons have been produced for almost twenty years; they are very familiar with the product and technicians are as good as in Spain. We believe that the high quality of the melons grown both in Spain and in Brazil makes it very difficult for any other country willing to enter the Premium market," says Jordi.
Melons in Brazil are harvested, handled and shipped to the port of Algeciras within a maximum of 11 days. "We have a warehouse where the product is repackaged and distributed across Spain. Therefore, a total of 20 days pass from the harvest until the product's sale. With this transit time, we need melons with a good post-harvest, and Rijk Zwaan gives us this advantage," he says.
"You can also grow good melons in Almeria"
Melón de Autor grows in various producing areas in Spain, starting in Almería and continuing in Murcia and Castile-La Mancha. In recent years, there has been a certain reluctance on the part of large retailers to buy melons from Almeria, because of the product's average quality; however, Jordi believes that it is possible to produce very good melons in some areas of Almeria, but you need tight controls in the field.
"In my opinion, customers who pay for premium quality shouldn't receive melons with Brix degrees below 12.5 to 13. And nowadays, in parts of Almeria, it is difficult to obtain melons with more than 11 Brix degrees."
The Premium melon concept is giving exports a boost
So far, Piel de Sapo melons have traditionally been consumed mostly in Spain, Portugal and southern France, although the situation is changing, according to Jordi Valle, thanks to the Premium melon concept.
"In the past, the Piel de Sapo melons exported did not meet the quality standards required in Spain. But things are improving and higher quality melons are being shipped, which is giving a boost to the demand. Producers and intermediaries working in the sector should be aware that not everything is allowed. To persuade foreigners to eat Piel de Sapo, you need to ship a sweet product. This winter, we have reached countries such as France, Poland, Ukraine and Germany. I think that in the future, exports will increase a lot if we continue down this road."
For more information:
Jordi ValleMelón de Autor
Calle Paseo del Progreso, 34.
Olesa de Monserrat - Barcelona. Spain
M: +34 643 138 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com