For years now, melon consumption has faced a certain dissatisfaction from consumers. They are not finding any uniformity in their flavour.
Jordi Valle, an executive from the company “Melón de Autor”, explains to Fruit Today the secret of this uniformity, as well as this campaign’s new launches.
Let’s start with the latest development. Your melon portions with ham are about to come onto the market. Do you think it is the most suitable social moment to do this?
It is true that we are in a delicate situation, economically speaking, but our company’s approach goes beyond these factors. A modern company must provide something more than just the sale; it must give a service and cover certain needs. Our product is focused on a person who has little time and wants to eat healthily.
We have some experience in this line of products. We offered it during the Davis Cup with dehydrated melon and watermelon, and it was a great success. We also have these products in the fresh cut range and they work very well.
Branding involves much more than just selling melons and watermelons: it means providing a service as well. Supermarkets have to be given something more, and we need to cooperate to ensure that the product succeeds. To do this, for the past 3 years we have had our own supervisors, who go round the supermarkets, looking to see whether the product is correctly positioned, refrigerated, etc. or if it is suitable on this supermarket shelf.
Is a market niche opening up for small melons now that safety has become all important and some supermarkets have stopped cutting fruit, while others have started again?
I have no doubt that the demand for both watermelons and melons is moving towards smaller formats. And this segment is exactly where our latest development lies. We are launching “Petit Autor”, for family units of 1 to 2 people, with a weight of 1.2 kgs or 1.6 kgs. “Petit Autor” only has to meet one requirement: flavour. With this melon format, the cutting problem to obtain a smaller piece is out of place.
How has the Brazilian import campaign unfolded in terms of quality and volumes? Is Brazil still interesting as a producing country or are there problems involved?
For us, it has been a year with very good quality. We know the country very well because we have lived there for 10 years and we have our own preparation centre, which guarantees a product that passes through an exhaustive selection and that is selected again on reaching Spain, at the centre in Valencia.
The Brazilian problem lies in an excess of offer. In terms of quality, it is possibly a good country for producing; it is another question altogether whether the volume is commercially feasible, particularly in qualities that are not Premium.
In any event, our business approach is not based on this model, but rather on maintaining a Premium brand on the supermarket shelves.
Now that the northern hemisphere seems to have the coronavirus under control, the situation in the south and in countries such as Brazil seems more concerning.
Yes, it is true that many cases of coronavirus are being recorded in Natal and Baraunas, and we don’t know what the incidence might be in the fields, in spite of the fact that it is an open air activity.
Some professionals are of the opinion that the drop in consumption in favour of watermelons is due to the surplus of melon varieties, which can change every 10 days and disappoint consumers. What is your opinion?
We use the same seeds for almost eight months throughout the whole phase in Brazil, La Mancha and even part of the period in Murcia.
We have had this problem for years now, which, on the one hand confuses the farmers and on the other, makes consumers dissatisfied. Our philosophy doesn’t entail producing the best melon in the world: the idea is to produce a good melon all year round. Guaranteeing the best melon in the world is a complete pipe dream, rather we must produce homogeneous fruit for the maximum time throughout the year.
I think that melons and watermelons have two different positions. In the heat of summer, watermelons are a very appetising product, but in annual terms, melons are fruit that are eaten more continuously. One of the objectives of “Melón de Autor” is to homogenise the product for as long as possible.