In the melon market, supply dynamics and weather conditions have been influencing the availability and prices of various melon types across different regions. In the Netherlands, the supply of Spanish watermelons has seen a drastic decrease due to hailstorms that occurred in May, causing crop losses. Germany has been facing high demand for melons, but has sparse quantities due to crop failures caused by heat in Italy. France has encountered challenges with storms affecting melon production, resulting in reduced volumes and higher prices. In Sweden, dry conditions have impacted local melon production, while Spanish melons from Bolla have entered the market with stable prices and quality. In Italy, delays in planting and heavy rain have led to limited quantities and higher prices, but a positive market response is expected. Additionally, the watermelon market in North America has experienced tight supply and strong demand, making it one of the most active watermelon markets in recent years. Overall, the melon market is navigating through various challenges and opportunities, influencing supply and prices in different regions.
Netherlands: Supply of Spanish (water) melons decreases drastically
In recent weeks, watermelons from Spain have been plentiful. Since this week, however, volumes have been decreasing continuously. This is not due to the current weather conditions, but is a consequence of the hailstorms that occurred in May, which caused part of the crop to be lost. Not only watermelons, but also the other melon types are affected by this phenomenon. With good weather conditions in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, it remains to be seen whether there will be enough fresh melons available again in time. Spain is expected to return to normal market supplies from week 29, provided the weather does not throw up any new surprises.
Belgium: Problems in key producing countries limit volumes
With the good weather, demand for melons is going through the roof in Belgium. "However, it is impossible to meet the demand because the available volumes are simply limited," says a trader. "In the important producing countries at the moment, Spain and Italy, there are a lot of climatic problems, so we can barely get product and prices are skyrocketing. It remains to be seen whether some relief will enter the market toward July, but for now it will remain a scrape."
Germany: High demand meets scarce quantities
The heat in Italy has led to poorer quality watermelons and netted melons, but also to crop failures. As a result, quantities are very tight, which has led to high prices. For netted melons, the price has about doubled, but the price for watermelons has also increased, according to an importer from southern Germany. However, the warm temperatures of recent weeks have led to good demand throughout Germany. In parallel with melons from Italy, sales have also begun for Greek melons, while Moroccan produce is now being phased out as quality here is also declining.
France: Good prospects for French melon production
The greenhouse melon campaign on the French market began on May 15, and in early June for field-grown melons. The south-east was the first to go into production. The central-western region and the Vendée are currently starting their campaign, and the south-west will begin its season next week. As a result, from next week onwards, all production basins in France should be active, and French supply should intensify.
The start of the season in France has been made difficult by the weather conditions - particularly the storms - which have affected fruit and vegetable production in the south of France since the beginning of June, significantly impacting yields. Available volumes are much lower than they should be, as the growers are struggling to reach 1,000 tonnes, whereas they would normally be at 3,000 - 4,000 tonnes a day at this time of year.
Supply is therefore reduced, but consumption is being boosted by the much milder weather of recent days. The result is a tight market, with supply unable to keep up with demand. Prices are therefore high, but unfortunately may not compensate for the lack of yield. This situation should return to normal as soon as next week, with all basins coming into production.
As far as quality is concerned, the first melons in France at the beginning of June were of average quality, with the product rapidly becoming waterlogged. For some time now, however, melon quality has improved significantly.
As for competition with other origins on the market, it has been much more sustainable for two years now. French lines have been able to open up quickly since the start of production in the open field at the beginning of June, which has nonetheless brought in some volumes. What's more, over the past 2 years, the area under Spanish cultivation has shrunk to such an extent - with a loss of 1,800 hectares - that Spanish supply is taking up much less space than it once did.
Sweden: Dry conditions affect Swedish melon production
According to an importer, melons from Bolla, Spain are now readily available in Sweden, offering consumers stable prices and exceptional quality. However, one of Sweden's prominent outdoor melon growers has experienced a decline in production volumes during the summer of 2023, attributing it to extremely dry conditions. He expressed concerns about the arid weather, stating, "I am putting out irrigation, it is already very very dry up here. This season I only have 6,000 melon plants, with 50% being Cantaloupe and the remainder comprising galia, piel de sapo, honeydew, and watermelons." As of 28 June 2023, the approximate wholesale prices for melons in Sweden are as follows: Galia at 15 SEK/kg for small sizes, Honneydew at 15 SEK/kg for small sizes, Cantaloupe at 15 SEK/kg for small sizes, and mini Watermelon at 11-12 SEK/kg. Despite the availability of melons, a distributor cautioned about the presence of subpar quality melons in the Swedish market.
Italy: High demand for Italian melons
In Italy, there are still few quantities of melons and watermelons available on the markets, which are sold at high prices. Delays in planting both in the greenhouse and in the open field, caused by bad weather, and heavy rain in May have delayed the start of the season by at least 10-15 days. A general reduction in yields is expected. Moreover, if at the beginning of the campaign, the still cool weather had not favoured the consumption of these products, with slow sales and very low prices, now, with the rise in temperatures, sales have resumed and the market is showing a good price trend.
Confirmation comes from an entrepreneur in the south of Sardinia, who reports: "We are harvesting green melon, cantaloupe and watermelon from greenhouses. In the open field, we will not start before 10 July. The delay that has arisen, about ten days compared to previous years, has also resulted in a good response in terms of prices. Weather permitting, I foresee a period with few quantities available on the markets and high prices. This will be followed by an overlapping of lots, which will ripen at the same time, leading to a higher supply. This will push prices down. Thereafter, there should be some stability." A Sardinian producer adds: "Now the market is responding very well, and sales prices are staying high. Piel de Sapo and cantaloupe melons, depending on quality, start from the field at around 1.50-2 €/kg, and are then offered for sale to Italian consumers at up to 4.80 €/kg. We will soon see the physiological reduction of starting prices, in view of the increase in harvested volumes."
An entrepreneur from Lazio says: "Demand and consumption of watermelon in Italy and abroad are high. Prices remain high. Until now there has been a big production gap, so much so that Italy, Morocco and Tunisia have held the market. This year, in the absence of Spain, we are supplying mini watermelons to countries such as the Netherlands, the UK and Germany, which have never before been supplied with this reference. Morocco and Tunisia have taken market share away from us in France."
A watermelon producer from Calabria adds: "In past years, around the first ten days of June, we would start with the mini watermelon under tunnel, followed by the classic watermelon. This year we hope to start the campaign by 10 July, but everything will depend on the temperatures. On the foreign markets where we are present, demand is already high and in the early phase of the campaign the main competitor is Greece."
Spain: Shortage of melons and watermelons from Spain until the end of July
The melon and watermelon harvest at this moment is mainly located in Murcia, where the cultivated area this season remains stable, limited by the scarcity of water.
The melon and watermelon campaign started in Almeria with very high temperatures in the months of March and April, which had the direct consequence of boosting the production. In May the weather changed drastically and Murcia suffered the consequences of the numerous storms that broke out intermittently for three weeks in a row, just as the production was about to be harvested. The hail along with the abundant rains, negatively affected the plantations and many of them were destroyed, apart from generating phytosanitary problems of all kinds and types, such as powdery mildew and mildew. All this has affected the productions for the month of June and the first three weeks of July.
“Therefore, as there was an oversupply in the markets in May, due to the high temperatures during March and April, which led to a high production whilst the rest of Europe had bad weather and therefore a low demand of this summer products, in June we found ourselves in the opposite situation, with a shortage due to the storms and with a skyrocketed demand as a result of the good weather in the destination markets. This has as a direct consequence a high price increase. This same situation will continue during the first three weeks of July and it is expected to change at the end of July and the beginning of August, when we expect production to normalize and t prices to stabilize”, explains an exporter from Murcia. “Other Mediterranean countries have had problems similar to those of Spain, so there is no overproduction in the European markets,” he adds.
North America: One of the most active watermelon markets in years
Supply of watermelons on the West Coast is very tight following cooler weather during the growing period, pushing harvest dates back. There was also a much lighter overlap between domestic and Mexico supply this year.
In the West, watermelons are coming from Phoenix, Arizona and Los Banos, California will start in the middle of next week. Yuma, Arizona is also in full production and light supplies are starting in Northern California.
Meanwhile, demand is very strong and one shipper says it’s been one of the most active watermelon markets in years.
In the East, recent tight supplies are improving as is quality. This follows heavy rains in Florida and Georgia affecting their crops and resulting in a gap between the two states. North Carolina will begin in early July and production will continue to Maryland and then Delaware.
Honeydew and cantaloupe melons are shipping out of California mostly with additional supplies from Arizona and Mexico. There was a slight gap between the end of May-early June given offshore supply finished up early and domestic production started late. However now supplies are steady. Demand for these melons is similar to last year while supply is better.
The first greenhouse grown melons were introduced in North America last year after eight years of R&D. They are grown in high-tech greenhouses in Canada and Mexico. What has driven the launch of greenhouse grown melons? "We need to be innovating to increase consumption and removing seasonality is key. In addition, external barriers like weather, food safety, food miles traveled, and shelf-life concerns need to be removed. A greenhouse grown product is produced in an optimal environment, so it thrives and delivers a consistent product, regardless of the season."
Brazil: One of the largest melon growers to start exports to EU
One of the world’s largest melon and watermelon growers and exporter from Brazil, will now have a guaranteed 12 month supply of melons to Europe. “Right now, because of problems in Spain, we are shipping melons to Europe. We are managing to produce melons during the whole Central American season and during the Spanish season,” according to a producer.
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