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Brazil: Increased demand for premium melons

"In 2014, Brazil shipped larger volumes of melons to Europe, but it was not enough to cover demand. We saw increased consumption in Germany, the UK and Northern Europe in general, partly due to the greater number of warm days," explains Carlo Porro, owner of Agricola Famosa, Brazil's largest melon and watermelon producer.

Based in the Brazilian north east, in the municipality of Icapui, the company exports to major world markets and supplies over 171 cities in the domestic market on a weekly basis.

According to Carlo, many producers are more focused on the domestic market rather than exporting, as Brazilians often pay more than Europe and with fewer difficulties in the transaction.

"The domestic market has changed. The fruit sold in Brazil seven years ago was second class, but nowadays the Brazilian economy is doing better, and the purchasing power has grown, with 30 million new middle-class consumers, who seek better quality fruit and are able to pay for it," says Carlo Porro, adding: "Brazil is not a cheap country; normally, the price per unit is of around 3 US dollars, while in supermarkets in Sao Paulo a premium melon can reach up to 10 dollars," affirms Carlo.

Agricola Famosa has 8,500 hectares devoted to melon production

The massive growth of the domestic market is reflected in the evolution of Agricola Famosa's figures; while in 2010 it shipped 100,000 tonnes to Europe and only 30,000 tonnes to the domestic market, this year more than 140,000 tonnes will be exported to the European market and 120,000 tonnes will be sold in the Brazilian market. According to Carlo Porro, most of the demand corresponds to yellow melons, but other varieties like Galia or Cantaloupe, and also watermelons are gaining ground.

Nevertheless, Brazilian producers have a big challenge to overcome; the same global warming that is boosting summer fruit sales in European countries is also causing long drought periods in major producing areas, leading melon growers to purchase land in areas with a better water supply.

"We don't expect the drought problem to be resolved, so Agricola Famosa is buying farms in other regions with more water resources; today we have 8,500 hectares and our acreage is expanding by an average of 20% per year," explains Carlo.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian economy is not going through its best moment; the low oil prices, de-industrialization and high public spending all point to a complicated 2015.

"I really trust Brazil; we have more than 200 million inhabitants and great consumption volumes, which I believe will not drop. Less than a year and a half ago, we purchased six facilities in Sao Paulo to sell our products directly, and three months ago had to buy another 16 because we were struggling to handle the demand generated," he affirms.

Regarding trends, Carlo notes that "the Brazilian market has always demanded large fruit, but in Europe I'm seeing that the trend is also moving towards larger calibres, which are usually tastier and sweeter and Europeans are starting to realise this."

The company is currently also involved in other projects, including the production of premium banana and papaya, with great success.

"We have 500 hectares for the cultivation of large calibre Formosa papayas, which we've been shipping by boat to Spain for four months and which are now starting to be distributed to the rest of Europe. In Brazil they are a big success; we have a very strong brand and we manage to sell them at double the price reached by fruit from traditional producers, as it is a high quality product which dominates the domestic market," concludes Carlo.

More information:
Carlo Porro
Marketing Director

T:+ 55 84 3324 5038+ 55 84 3324 5038
[email protected]

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