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Melon demand starts picking up as temperatures get warmer

Second cycle melon production from Guatemala is underway and volumes ahead of the Easter holiday look good. "With Spring just around the corner, we're getting into a period of increased volume that coincides with the warmer temperatures," says Tom Ferguson, vice-president of sales at Classic Fruit Company. He notes that Guatemala is in its second production cycle on cantaloupe and honeydew melons and that decent volumes of both melons should go through mid-May.

The current supply does look similar to this time last year. "Guatemala has experienced ideal weather conditions so far in 2024. Whitefly pressure is low compared to years past so it should be a solid couple of months with volume and especially quality," said Ferguson. "The second cycle crop has seen larger sizing, high color and excellent Brix levels so we're really excited for a solid finish to our import season before transitioning to our Yuma program in May."

Arrivals of the fruit into Florida and California will continue until approximately the third week of May allowing for East Coast customers to stay with this supply through the majority of the month. Production will then switch to Yuma, Arizona which is scheduled to begin in the third week of May. "This will be our fourth season working with Westside Produce during the domestic season as our alliance continues to expand in providing a year-round supply of melons to our customers," said Ferguson.

Lower pricing
Meanwhile, pricing has been lower this season compared to the record averages realized last year on both cantaloupe and honeydew. That's partly attributed to increased production shipping from Central America by some growers during the first four months. Still, the single-label Mexican cantaloupe recall in the Fall certainly did not help matters. "Most importantly pricing has been down because of the lower demand due to that recall and the publicity it gained," he says. Movement in the retail sector was significantly affected by lower store sales but foodservice and fresh-cut business remained pretty much business as usual. "The whole melons were more impacted than the other categories," added Ferguson.

Demand increasing
Demand has started to pick up again as the temperatures warm. This is a welcome development after a challenging start to the season. "We are starting to see things turn and retailers are lining up promotions going into Easter and throughout April to help catch up the category for the season," said Ferguson. "With the weather warming, each week the orders naturally start to increase."

For more information:
Tom Ferguson
Classic Fruit Company
Tel: +1 (954) 426-0775
[email protected]