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Spanish Limelon season kicks off at HillFresh International

"Limelon is finding its way as a specialty melon within European retail"

At HillFresh International, the Spanish Limelon season is set to kick off from Almeria in early June. The Barendrecht-based importer received the first seeds of this refreshing melon from the Taiwanese breeding company Known You Seeds in 2015, conducted tests in all major melon-growing regions, and this season results in a commercial plantation of approx. 100 hectares in the Mediterranean area (Morocco, Spain, Italy).

"We received various trials, but this Prity melon, as it is officially called, immediately caught our attention. The melon combines the juiciness and sweetness of the melon with the tangy taste of lime, making it truly distinctive along with its characteristic appearance. We immediately received support from some German retailers to test the melon on a commercial scale, and we are now running programs with retailers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom," says Hans van den Heuvel.

Year-round availability not an end in itself
The Mediterranean Limelon season starts in week 18 with the first volumes from Morocco and runs until week 36. Meanwhile, worldwide tests are being conducted to extend the shelf availability of the Limelon, which is positioned as a specialty melon. "We now grow the Limelon in Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and California, among others. Having the melon available year-round is not an end in itself, but of course, it would be nice to be present on the shelves all year round. However, it's more important that the melons from all growing areas meet our specifications," emphasizes Hans.

"In addition to the volumes we import, we also seek local partners to manage sales through sublicenses. For example, we granted a sublicense to DonCamillo in Italy for cultivation and sales in the Italian market. "The melon has been very well received in all markets, but it is particularly popular in the Italian market. Given their fondness for Limoncello and Torta al Limone, this melon fits perfectly into the taste profile of the Italians," says Hans.

Surprising and refreshing
"The beauty of the whole journey with the Limelon is that we've had a smooth introduction into retail with limited promotion. The melon has essentially sold itself thanks to its distinctive taste profile and appearance. We now sell the Limelon not only in Europe but also in Africa, North America, and Australia. The standard reaction we get is that the melon is surprising and refreshing. While the surprise element may fade over time, the refreshing taste will always remain!"

"Testing the melons is a long-term process, and you must resist the temptation to rush ahead. Each year you have only one growing cycle, which requires careful planning and thorough evaluation with all growers. Each year is different, for instance, last year's weather conditions in Spain drastically reduced the supply. Fortunately, this year's harvest looks promising."

"The outlook for the melon market is positive. The Brazilian season was affected by rain, but we had a very good season from the Central American countries of Costa Rica and Honduras. Also, for the European season, the signals are green, and of course, we hope for a year full of sunshine," says Hans.

Galkia from Gregal
"From our Spanish partner Gregal, we offer the Galkia-Galia melon in addition to Yellow Honey Dew, Cantaloupe, and Piel de Sapo. This variety has revitalized the sales of Galia melons. Customers specifically ask for it because of its exceptional taste. In addition, we are proud of our long-standing collaboration with partner Sacoje, who, in addition to growing our Limelon, also specializes in watermelons, allowing us to beautifully round out the entire melon category during the summer."

HillFresh has further sharpened its product focus over the past years to the product groups of citrus, grapes, and melons. "You can't be good at everything, let alone get better. That's why we believe in specialization and risk diversification. With grapes, we seek backward integration towards cultivation with our partners in Namibia and Peru, with citrus with a group of quality growers in South Africa, Uruguay, and Argentina, and with melons, we do the same in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Brazil. In addition, we try to find distinctiveness in varieties in grapes, citrus, and melons through close cooperation with breeders where possible. The Limelon is a fine example of this, and we are working with the breeder to further improve the genetics of this line," concludes Hans.

For more information:
Hans van den Heuvel
HillFresh International
Tel: +31 (0)180 898 080
[email protected]

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