Weather causes tight North America melon market

Snug. That’s how supply of watermelons in North America is currently described. “If you’re looking at transactional supply of watermelons, it’s tough to find supply,” says Savvas Tsoukalas of Mississauga, Ont.-based Savco Worldwide, Inc. “Product has been hit and miss and the quality hasn’t been there. But if you have committed partners and programs, then things look fine.” 

Part of the problem is, not surprisingly, weather. “It’s been erratic since January,” says Tsoukalas. “One grower told me if you have rain issues in, say, Florida, then you’ll have rain issues all the way up the season because it’s a nomadic crop following weather patterns.” Rain impacts how the fruit grows—follow that rain with heat and it won’t size well. “You’ll get a burst in size and instead of getting the sizes you’re expecting, you’re getting a lot larger fruit and there’ll be issues,” says Tsoukalas. “The fruit has suddenly blown up a lot faster so you’ve got to keep an eye on it.” 

Watching quality
That includes eyeballing quality. “Sometimes people start compromising their opinion on quality,” says Tsoukalas. “For example, to fill an order, a grower may cut when the product isn’t ripe to meet size expectations. And then when the customer cuts into the melon, there’ll be more rind and less flavor.” On its end, Savco has been working to sell those larger sizes instead. “And there are a lot of growers who try to follow that methodology as well and those are the ones we try and work with since we want to bring flavour to our market,” he adds.

Pushing on price
Meanwhile prices are higher this year. “Out of Indiana for example, prices are about 25 per cent higher than last year,” notes Tsoukalas, who’s sourcing melons from states such as Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Delaware, Indiana, Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas. While demand is even for the supply, what’s pushing the pricing up this year is logistic pricing. “They’ve been firmer as well,” he says. “The product pricing has been high but the freight prices haven’t fallen. Typically when product pricing is high, supply of freight is more plentiful because demand is down and it helps keep an even price. This season it’s been a high truck and product market.” 

That said, Tsoukalas notes that Ontario growers will begin supply in a few weeks. “Typically they’d have their first bits of supply starting on the 24th, but they’re delayed from about a week to 10 days,” Tsoukalas says. 

For more information: 
Savvas Tsoukalas
Savco Worldwide, Inc.
Tel: +1-905-677-2822

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