Brazil's melon exports get off to a flying European start

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Brazil's melon exports get off to a flying European start

Dutch distributor Frankort & Koning believes Brazil's melon exports to Europe are set to start well with Mediterranean supply finishing early due to the recent heatwaves.

The company's commercial division managing director Leon van de Hombergh, told even later melons, such as cantaloupes and Piel de Sapo that normally finish at the end of September and October have already finished.

"We are going to see a rather clean market within a few weeks. The first fruit arrived today (Friday) and it was excellent quality. The forecast from Brazil is rather promising."

But he added melon sales depended on the climate with consumers choosing not to buy the fruit if the weather was poor.

Van de Hombergh was optimistic that although this season would be "challenging" it would not be as tough as the previous year.

"We had cold weather in Europe, the economic recession and too many melons in the market. Central America had a very bad season last year and they will not be so enthusiastic about growing melons.

"Costa Rica got terrible returns for their watermelons and yellow varieties. I think there will be less fruit entering the European market this season."

He said last year his company imported 30,000 metric tons (MT) of melons from the Southern Hemisphere but said he expected this to increase by 10% this season.

He added Frankort & Koning was continuing to grow its market share with its Brazilian producer partner Agrícola Famosa, which is supplying cantaloupes, Piel de Sapos and yellow Honeydews, as well as seeded and seedless Watermelons.

The distributor currently has relationships with most of Europe's major supermarket chains including Carrefour, Edeka, Lidl, Metro and Rewe.

Van de Homberg said smaller sized melons and yellow varieties were generally popular in northern European countries as well as Watermelons.

Southern European consumers preferred larger sizes and Piel de Sapo was particularly popular, said van de Hombergh. In Eastern and northwestern Europe consumers preferred medium sized melons and varieties such as Galias and Cantaloupes.

"People are getting used to the seedless varieties of Watermelons and consumers are going for the yellow melons which have more taste and higher brix levels," said van de Hombergh.

Agricola Famosa supplies 70% of Frankort & Koning's melon imports shipping from the end of August through to the end of April.

Melons are Brazil's biggest fruit export with plantations in the northeatern part of the country, which has a dry hot climate. Shipping times from the Brazilian port of Pecem to Rotterdam have reduced over the last few years from 14 days to 12, according to van de Homberg.

The market starts to get more crowded from the new year when Central American melon supply comes on-stream.

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