Fruit and vegetable consumption has increased during the coronavirus crisis in Spain, but the end of the lockdown is not expected to lead directly to a break in the trend, according to forecasts from several industry experts. Consumption of affordable fresh produce is expected to increase in the coming months, especially for the most popular ones in the summer months. For the Sol de Levante cooperative from Lorca, Spain, which is specialized in the cultivation of melons and watermelons, among other crops, watermelon is a clear example of a traditional, appealing and affordable fruit whose consumption will increase.
José Luis Gómez, commercial director of the company, estimates the cooperative's watermelon harvest at 20 to 22 million kilos, and the melon one at between 3.5 and 4 million kilos. “As always, the cooperative will strictly monitor the quality of the production. All our melons and watermelons are grown in the open ground, on plots at different heights. The fruit grows with natural light, which gives it the crispy texture that we aim for," says José Luis.
Total control over the production
The harvest has already started on the plots closest to the coast. "We started in the Campo de Cartagena region and we will end in early September in the fields of northern Murcia. In this way, we guarantee an optimal Brix of between 10 and 12 degrees throughout the period," says José Luis. The cultivation at different heights makes it possible to supply the fruit throughout the season. The cooperative markets it domestically, but also exports it to other European countries, such as the UK, Germany and the Scandinavian countries.
With the aim of reaching markets beyond Europe, Sol de Levante has launched an internationalization project. For example, it recently opened two new market lines in Canada and the United Arab Emirates. "This year, we plan to export between 6% and 8% of our broccoli, cauliflower, iceberg lettuce and watermelon," said the executive, who is very optimistic about the near future of the company and the industry.