Heading into the spring months, now is the time for great eating rockmelons and exceptional value for the fruit, according to an Australian wholesale company.
Simon George and Sons has just hit peak supply which will last the month of September and expects strong volumes to continue from North Queensland until the end of October.
"Towards the end of October, the visual appearance can change due to increased sun exposure as the weather heats up, into November we move to supply from New South Wales, Victoria & South Australia as the summer season progresses," Brisbane-based Buyer Dan Newton said. "Significant rain earlier in the season affected supply but we have come through that period for rockmelons now. The impact of that same rain is still impacting honeydew melon supply, but we anticipate seeing better sizing and volume of honeys in the markets by the end of September."
Simon George and Sons is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated business that has established a strong reputation in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry over the last 90 years. The company has sites in Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Sydney and Townsville.
Mr Newton says the wholesale company has been working with North Queensland Fresh to source 'direct from farm' for over seven years.
"Located in Gumlu, North Queensland, NQF grows rockmelon, honeydew and mango along with red, green and yellow capsicums," he said. "Produce from this farm is used at all Simon George branches across Australia and we value these direct farming relationships to source the best quality products for our customers. Rockmelon demand is slightly higher than that of honeydew, simply based on pricing due to the rain earlier this season and that honeydews still have a few weeks to be back to peak supply. Overall, rockmelon is a consistent produce line for hotels & restaurants, and demand is quite steady throughout the year.
Along with rockmelon, watermelon and honeydew are the main lines in the melon category for Simon George and Sons. There are smaller varieties such as orange candy and Piel de Sapo (Santa Claus melon), which are sporadically available in the markets. On the back of COVID impacts, Mr Newton says supply & demand for rockmelon overall would be down approximately 25 per cent.
"It is a staple line for breakfasts and buffets both in hotels and restaurants, along with mine sites," he explained. "Due to the uncertainty, we have seen growers planting less."
He added that COVID has certainly had a big impact to the business and continues to affect different cities and states by way of both snap and extended lockdowns.
"In April 2020 when goalposts were moving daily, we had to quickly find a way to keep our team busy and our communications open with our clients,” he said. “We were proud to deliver 5,000 Care Packages to our clients and hospitality staff in need across the country. This gave purpose to many of our team, from our warehouse pickers to drivers and sales representatives. It also allowed us to continue speaking to many of our clients that had to suddenly close their doors. As a business, we are lucky to have a diverse customer base and have been able to continue supply throughout to the likes of hospitals, mine sites, quarantine hotels, AFL/NFL hubs and the Australian Defence Force."