El Abuelo is in good health”

Almost 60,000 tonnes of melons marketed allow the company from Murcia to keep up its perfect bill of health

Fruit Today euromagazine talked to Celedonio Buendía, the manager of Melones ‘El Abuelo’, to share his view of what the new Piel de Sapo campaign could be like.

How is the ‘Abuelo’ or Grandfather of Melons?

I would say that ‘El Abuelo’ is in excellent health, with an invoicing of around 55,000,000 euros.

An investment fund has knocked on the doors of a melon company. Would you like to have one prowling round Melones El Abuelo?

Why not? If they have already done it with others, we could be an extra link in this chain.

How do you envisage the current season?

In our star variety, the Piel de Sapo, we have the same parameters as last year in terms of production area. And by this, I am referring to the three main producing areas, in spite of the fact that sowing has not finished in Castilla La Mancha, but the data is already available. We have compared this information with many farmers and we consider it to be reliable.

Up to now, how has the Almeria campaign been?

We have seen a certain shortage of commercial sizes, which is attributable to the weather conditions, but in week 20 it started to balance out, resulting in pieces between 2.5 kg and 3.5 kg.

Keeping the crop’s essence is fixed in your DNA and, on this point, you are launching a line called ‘Once upon a time…’ What can you tell me about this?

Several years ago, we started up a line that evoked the flavours of yesteryear and, and as if it were a fairy tale, we christened it ‘Érase una vez …’ (Once upon a time…) We have brought the life back to seeds from 48 years ago, forgotten by my father and we carried out some flavour tests with grandparents from the area. The curious point was that they were unanimous about the fact that they evoked the old flavours.

Using hybridisation techniques, we have managed to maintain the physical appearance and improve these older varieties. Now they have a very firm flesh, the flavour of yesteryear and some brix of around 14 and 15 degrees.

Last year we produced around 2,700 tonnes and this year the forecasts suggest that there will be around 4,000.

How is bio melon consumption perceived from Procomel?

We started bio production over a decade ago and we have maintained a sustained growth of between 12% and 14%, although only in the productions from Murcia and La Mancha.

What are Procomel’s next challenges?

At ‘El Abuelo’ we are always inventing something new and in the near future we will incorporate two new prototypes to the Sugar Baby family. The first of them will be ready for marketing in 2020.

Do you think that melon producers have taken note of the upswing in watermelons, pushing melons aside?

Yes, absolutely. We have taken note of this. The truth is that watermelons are stable, reliable produce, but we can say that the melon producers and the seed companies realised that they couldn’t go on without providing a guarantee of product quality and today, several years later, this threat has been overcome.

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