Melons and watermelons are among the most popular fruits on the fruit shelf. This is undoubtedly due to the wide range of products: Over the years, the range has been constantly enhanced by innovative new varieties, different fruit sizes and great marketing concepts. Thanks to this constant diversification, the melon is still today the right fruit for all households, from singles to extended families.
Innovative marketing: "Young" consumers as target group
Dr. Hans-Christoph Behr spoke in one of the forums at the 2020 German Fruit & Vegetables Congress about the starting position of melons and watermelons on the German and European market. Over the years, this product group has established itself as an important category in the fruit and vegetable range. The market share of watermelons in particular is growing rapidly on the German market. The seasonality of demand is interesting: The demand for sugar melons seems to benefit from a growing supply from overseas, while the demand for watermelons remains more seasonal.
Innovations in the melon category have made a significant contribution to the higher demand and increased value, Dr. Behr outlined. Among other things, a large number of smaller watermelons, as well as seedless/low-seed watermelons, have been bred in recent years. Fresh-cut concepts are resonating more and more with the consumer and will probably grow even more. "Above all, the watermelon is drawing in a new, predominantly young consumer group in the German food retail trade, which means that this commodity is gradually extending its range."
Breeding process in constant change: The melon of the future
Miguel Salinas Torres, responsible for the melon segment at breeding company Enza Zaden España, sees a similar trend in the melon market. "Melons are most commonly eaten after lunch in Spain. Consumption is strongly concentrated in larger households and families. So we see further potential there". On the German market, sales of melons are increasing and they are trying to promote this trend with appropriate concepts and breeding, says Salinas Torres.
During the breeding process, the Enza Zaden team focuses on three separate pillars, namely enjoyment, convenience and sustainability. "A longer shelf life, good fruit consistency and a suitable Brix value or sugar content are decisive. In the near future, we will increasingly focus on Freshcut concepts: Although the market share of fresh-cut melons is modest up until now in the German market, we predict an interesting growth nonetheless, says Salinas Torres.
Melon cultivation in Germany
Finally, someone from the audience asked whether melon cultivation in southern Germany could establish itself in the long term as an alternative to imported goods. On this point, Dr. Hans-Christoph Behr was less than enthusiastic: "In the past, there used to be a trial plant of some 40 hectares in the Palatinate. The melons produced there were only available in the shops for a few weeks and were therefore of little interest to the retail trade. Nowadays there is more appreciation for regionality among consumers, but I'm still rather skeptical because of the short availability."