While many commodities are faced with tight supplies this season, the situation is the opposite for melons. “This fall, there was a lot of honeydew and watermelon in the market at one time,” says Mikee Suarez with MAS Melons & Grapes. It caused supply to become backed up for a large portion of the season. “Fortunately, old fruit seems to have cleared out of the market and prices are starting to normalize as we are heading into the offshore and Southern Mexican seasons,” he shared.
Left: Honeydew melon field in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. Right: pallet of honeydew being prepared for shipment.
Transitioning from fall to winter season
At the moment, the company is at the tail end of its fall season. “We had good supplies of our big four melon items, including honeydew, seedless watermelon, and mini watermelon.” In addition, a small crop of orange candy melon was part of the fall offering. Of the four core melon offerings, the company is down to just honeydew for the fall season as the transition down south has started. Honeydew will be available until mid-December. “We are headed into our natural time of transition, to the next crop from Southern Mexico,” said Suarez. Watermelon, mini watermelon, and honeydew should be back in stock by the last week of December or the first week of January for the winter program. Supplies of orange candy melons will follow shortly after as more product has been planted for the winter.
When asked about the current cantaloupe recall, Suarez mentioned it’s a melon variety they don’t handle. “We focus mostly on the orange candy melon to fill our customers’ orange-fleshed melon needs,” he shared. “Part of the reason is the high risk of salmonella that cantaloupes have, and we prefer to offer a safer alternative for our customers.” The orange candy melons pack a classically juicy taste and instead of netting, they have a bright orange skin. “These melons are a good alternative this winter and may be the future of the melon category.” When the news of the foodborne illness in salmonella first broke out, Suarez felt a small reverberation and slowdown of movement of other melons for a few days. “However, things went quickly back to normal.”
Orange candy melons packed in Caborca, Sonora, Mexico.
In addition to supplying melons to customers in North America, MAS also has an export program to Japan. “This fall, the export season was a bit more active compared to past years. We still have very high-quality melons for both our customers in North America as well as Japan and will continue to supply them as we head into our winter crop.”