(Oct. 28, 4:57 p.m.) ORLANDO, Fla. — Abbott & Cobb Inc. is looking to change the face of the netted melon industry with its Summer Sweet-brand XLS melon, which the company promoted at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2008 Oct. 24-27.

The Feasterville, Penn.-based company grew the long shelf-life melon in Mexico last year, but this is the first year for a sizeable crop, said chairman and chief executive officer Art Abbott.

“Growers like it so much they want to plant their whole farms in it,” Abbott said.

The melon is similar to a cantaloupe but sweeter and denser than a traditional cantaloupe, Abbott said. The melon is harvested by hand rather than picked by machine.

“It has to be harvested to maximize flavor,” he said.

Abbott said the long shelf-life of the melon and its higher sweetness level allow for a better-tasting product even in the winter months.

“It’s the classic taste of summer,” he said. “You can get the eating quality in January you’d expect in July.”

Consumer demand for netted melons typically slackens during the winter because low brix levels mean poor taste quality, Abbott said. He said field tests of the XLS melon yielded brix levels as high as 16.

“It represents a huge boost to the netted melon,” he said.

Abbott & Cobb promotes sweet melon at Fresh Summit
This is the first year for a sizable crop of Abbott & Cobb Inc.’s XLS netted melon, says chairman and chief executive officer Art Abbott. The Feasterville, Penn.-based company grew smaller quantities of the melon last year, he says, and is now trying to promote it to retailers.