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Mexico watermelon season looking good until January

Watermelon growers are shifting their production through different Mexican regions now as the winter crops begin. For Stella Farms, they are about to begin watermelon production in Nayarit this coming week, where they will ship for about six weeks, before moving to Yucatan for eight to ten weeks. The company's Mexican season finishes up in Tamaulipas in May.

"We are about to start in Nayarit this week," said Mike Martori of Stella Farms. "The main production will be in Mexico over the next six months. Honduras and Guatemala will also be in production over the northern winter. Guatemala is already shipping cantaloupe and if watermelons have not started yet, they will do so shortly."

Martori noted that the first part of the Mexican watermelon season is looking good. Supplies will likely be impacted in January however due to the effects of hurricane activity in the region over the fall months. "There was about a two week period when we weren't able to plant," he explains. "Therefore, we expect to have tight to very tight supplies by around mid-January, although we are trying a few things now to try to cover that gap. Until then though, we are seeing good production and quality."

Market is good
With watermelon production looking steady for the next month and a half, the market is good. Supplies are sufficient to meet the current demand, but growers expect that prices will trend upward towards the new year, something they say is typical for the time of year.

"As the Sonora and Florida crops both wind down, pricing is good," Martori observed. "Currently there is not a lot of demand, but there is also less fruit around, so we are able to meet the demand well. We think we will see a slight rise in prices into December and January, but that is not unusual."

"Stella Farms ships watermelons year-round," he added. "It's still an item where we see good overall demand, with sales increasing each year."

Sales of mini watermelons increase in the winter
Suppliers have noted that mini watermelons are gaining in popularity among consumers, citing continued increased sales for the variety. As winter approaches, now is the time of year when the proportion of sales of mini watermelons increases even further. This is not the only category that is witnessing growth.

"Sales of mini watermelons continues to increase each year," Martori said. "This is especially so during the winter months where the percentage of watermelon sales that are mini watermelons is higher. This is because people buy proportionally fewer larger watermelons compared with the summer months when consumption is higher."

"Another category where we are seeing strong growth is in cut watermelons," he continued. "There is strong consumer demand for that particular convenience item."

Nayarit watermelons are ready to go

Finding balance for cut watermelons
In line with the increased demand for cut watermelons, growers say they are planting more watermelon varieties suitable for processing. This is because the watermelons sent for processing need to have certain characteristics that make them suitable for this purpose. "Good characteristics for cut watermelon include firmness as well as not purging juice when cut," Martori explained. "The last thing processors want is for a slice of watermelon sitting in a pool of juice."

Martori did note however, that these particular watermelons are usually not as tasty as the varieties sold whole. He said this is something that growers are working on now as the category grows. "Watermelon growers are currently trialing few new varieties, trying to find a balance between something that is suitable to be cut and also tastes great."

For more information:
Mike Martori
Stella Farms
Tel: +1 (480) 588-7012

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