Total Produce is focusing more and more on certain core items. "We specialize in these products or product groups. In this way, we can offer our clients a value-added service. Melons are one of our value-added products. This is a product we have been importing for more than 20 years now. We have since become real specialists," says Saskia Polak. "The most visible aspect of this is that we are continually looking for new varieties."
"Good examples of this are the DINO, a snow ball melon and the MINI (the Lynx – this is a real, one-of-a-kind micro melon)," continues Saskia. "However, in the background, we are working hard on all the existing varieties. The consumer hardly ever sees this, but a lot has happened over the years. Brix levels in, for example, our YHD and Galia, have increased from around 9 or 10 to between 11 and 13. And you can taste the difference."
Saskia Polak and Judith Lansbergen Lievaart - Product Management & Retail Sales
"The instore shelf life of these products has also improved significantly. Melons with (old age) spots do not sell well in the stores. This affects everything. Nowadays, there is no-one in stores who remove 'less desirable' fruit, so the fruit that is there has to be good."
"With a better melon that has a longer shelf life, consumers buy easier. The turnaround time also improves, and the products on the shelf remain fresher. This is a difference that is good for everyone in the chain", says the importer.
"The MINI is no longer a niche item at retailers that have it in their assortment. However, the DINO melon is still. This gives consumers a choice and gives the melon shelf the attention it deserves. An ever-growing percentage of melons are, however, often still being sold as ‘pre-cut’ in the convenience section. Taste is very important, especially in this segment. You often use a bit of lemon juice to lengthen the shelf life slightly and to keep the color vibrant. So, these must be melons that have a good Brix level and are easy to cut."
"We also importer a separate line, with a specific focus on convenience . These melons have high Brix levels and are easy to cut. This is especially important in the watermelon sector. Consumers like buying this variety pre-cut. However, the fact that this melon 'leaks' is often a problem. This is why we receive watermelons that have been specially cultivated to be pre-cut. They have firmer flesh and there is a significant reduction of juice loss. We receive these on a weekly basis, " explains Saskia.
"Consumers do not have to buy melons. There are plenty of alternatives available in stores. And, at the end of the day, it is not a cheap product. So, when they do buy a melon, it must be a good one. If this is not the case, a repeat purchase will, temporarily, not happen. This is what we, at Total Produce want to prevent. The consumer must be satisfied. This is the only reason, melons will be on their weekly shopping list", concludes Saskia.