Monsanto showcases tasty melons in development

10/25/2013 04:39:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

NEW ORLEANS — Following in the footsteps of its Melorange-brand charentais melon, Monsanto’s Seminis vegetable breeders are working to develop a line of specialty melons that have extended shelf life as well as good flavor.

Many of the varieties are designed to be grown during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer season and exported to the U.S. during the winter. Others are being bred to bring variety to the summer melon deal.

“We’re early in the business of establishing relationships with growers and retail partners to work in concert to bring them into the marketplace,” said Eduardo Ayala, consumer trait account and chain manager, Woodland, Calif.

Monsanto representatives showed off the varieties and provided samples to the media and select grower-shippers at the the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Oct. 20.

During the summer, the melon market typically comprises about 85% cantaloupe and 15% honeydew, Ayala said.

“But that’s not necessarily reflective of what the market wants — that’s just what’s available,” he said.

Drawing from consumer research and development and sensory panel work, the company sought to better understand the components of flavor.

Although brix is definitely an important part of the equation, Ayala said aroma, mouth feel, crunchiness and juiciness also play into the mix.

Johnny McIntier, SeminisVicky BoydJohnny McIntier, cucurbit technology development representative, shows off some of the different specialty melons Monsanto’s Seminis has in the pipeline.In the past, winter melon varieties were bred for a long shelf life because they had to endure a long trip from the Southern Hemisphere and still be marketable when they reached the U.S. But flavor, which is a difficult trait to breed for, frequently was lost.

“We know that taste during the wintertime is something that resonated with consumers,” he said.

In taste tests, consumers preferred Melorange to another winter melon 83% to 17%, Ayala said. In another taste test, two-thirds favored Corsica HaOgen, a Galia-type melon, over cantaloupe.

Unlike many melons that are sold as a generic commodity, Melorange actually is a brand, and the fruit carry stickers identifying them as such.

The varieties in Monsanto’s pipeline have a long shelf life as well as agronomic characteristics to make them profitable to grow, said Johnny McIntier, a cucurbit technology development representative based in Yuma, Ariz.

At the same time, breeders have reintroduced taste.

“I think it offers retailers many choices and ultimately, the consumer wins,” Ayala said.

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Brenda Mason    
Forest, Va.  |  February, 11, 2014 at 07:02 PM

I found out about Meloranges last month when I went to Mn. I asked for cantaloupes & they were out so I got the Melorange . I had never seen or heard about them . Got to my daughters & cut one opened & it was the most delicious piece of fruit I had ever eaten. I was hooked. I brought a 2-piece package home on airplane & when I got here, I went to Sams , where I found them in Mn. They had stacks of them & I started buying 3 or 4 packages a couple of times each week. I LOVE them. MY daughter & her boyfriend here in Va. feel in love with them as well as my family in Mn. Sams ran out of them on Sunday, & this is horrible. Please, Please let other stores sell them. We will advertise free for them. They are a lot better than the cantaloupes, keep longer & I loose more weight when I eat them daily. Before, I was taking 3 or 4 cantaloupes every week back to the stores because when I cut them opened, they were bad. This very seldom happens with the Meloranges. Please I beg of you. Let us have more places around Lynchburg, Va. where we can buy the. Thank you so much. Brenda M( 67 yr. old lady)

Brenda Mason    
Forest, Va.  |  October, 26, 2014 at 10:07 AM

Its me again. This past summer has been the worst ever for cantaloupes. I know I have Thrown away probably $300. worth of them. Like before, I would buy 8-10 cantaloupes every week. I love them so much, & my health was a lot better when I kept them in my diet.I hate to get home with just a couple of them & if they're good, I have to run back & forth to the store to get more, & if they're bad, the same thing. With the Meloranges I was getting enough for 1/2 the week & then go back for the rest.Towards the end of the season, they had gotten bad & I was so hooked on them I went for the other ones. Once out of 4 or 5 would be kinda good ( nothing like the Meloranges ) but anyway to get to the point, PLEASE bring back the Meloranges in more stores . I will work for free selling them or advertising them if you want me too. Thank you, Brenda

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