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Thinking like consumers to achieve success

This is Rijk Zwaan’s motto when developing its varieties, a proposal that it passes on to the producers to be able to win the battle on the supermarket shelves

This year Rijk Zwaan’s Global Melon & Watermelon Event has placed (more than ever before) the focus on consumers. With the fitting title of ‘Inspiring the prosumer’ (a play on words between producer and consumer), they have wanted to launch a clear concept: “consumers generate data, they have influence throughout the chain; they do not just buy.” For this reason, it is essential for plant breeders and producers to put themselves in their shoes.

During the seminars, Diego Maestre, Crop Coordinator for Melons, Watermelons and Courgettes at Rijk Zwaan, explained the main progress made by the company in melons. New developments with which they intend to give solutions to the supply chain globally throughout the year, always with the premise of flavour. To do this, it is essential to have varieties for the different origins and an optimum shelf life.

In its catalogue for Spain, Piel de Sapo, Galia and Amarillo are the main types. For other countries they also have Branco, Ananas, Honey Dew, Kirkagas and other innovations, as well as a genetic programme for processed fruit.

According to types, the Piel de Sapo is divided up into two independent segments. The first is Mellissimo, for distant exports with quality, in which varieties of 1.2 – 2.5 kg are included. “We have added Dolsura RZ with the Ultra Long Trip stamp (already present on Bravura RZ), which can travel for periods of up to over 20 days. We area already sending fruit to Malaysia, Singapore, Canada…” In the traditional segment, they have two new developments: 34-123 RZ, a Mellissimo for Murcia and also for August in La Mancha, small with great flavour and internal quality; and 14P108 RZ (Murcia) with excellent eating and internal quality and a plant that is resistant to powdery mildew and aphids.

Over the next two years, they will replace their complete open-air range of Amarillo with a new generation. Therefore, Pekín RZ will be replaced by 15A091 (resistant to powdery mildew and aphids, stronger and with better internal quality); 15A225 will substitute Yeral RZ and 15A353 will take over from Ducral RZ, with greater resistances and better plants, providing strength.

The 34-211 RZ (Murcia) is the company’s proposal for long life Galia, with a perfect sugar level to ensure farmers do not harvest it at the wrong time. For La Mancha they have 34-206 RZ. The 15G287 is highly innovative, with a traditional appearance and a cutting indicator (when it reaches a brix of 15-16º, it turns from green to yellow) and with a long shelf life.

In the watermelon catalogue, the company is working on the development of mini, seedless varieties of the Crimson and Tiger types in different formats and cycles. “The 62-926 RZ is the one that is awakening most interest in exporters because in mini, seedless watermelons, it has the firmest flesh and it travels very well,” Javier Climent, a Watermelon Specialist explains.

In stripy seedless, they have 62-923 RZ and 62-926 RZ. The first has been selected in Brazil for export and the second has an excellent internal quality.


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