Melon grower-shippers report the fresh-cut category is growing.

For melons, the value-added fresh-cut sector is a popular way to reach consumers who are wary of purchasing an entire melon, or perhaps for a consumer who simply doesn’t need the entire piece of fruit.

“Compared to choosing other fruit, like bananas or peaches, melons are difficult to determine ripeness. That speaks to why cut fruit is popular,” said Michael Martori, vice president of sales for Pura Vida Farms LLC, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Watermelon, for example, can benefit from fresh-cut applications because consumers can see the bright red, firm flesh of the melon, with no seeds, when it’s cubed and displayed in plastic containers.

“That’s why people gravitate toward that,” Martori said.

Others agree the fresh-cut category has a lot of potential for growth.

“That market is definitely growing a lot more, especially toward the end of the domestic season when you don’t see those large bins of melons at the grocery store anymore,” said Juliemar Rosado, marketing communications manager for the Orlando, Fla.-based National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Fresh-cut melon items also present opportunities for shippers to communicate new usage ideas to consumers.

Creative marketing techniques for melons includes offering new recipes and even specially designed usage packs, according to Gina Garven, category insights manager for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson.

“C.H. Robinson recommends that retailers tie-in with other seasonal items like corn, berries or even hot dogs to give consumers an idea about how they can create a fun summer grilling event,” Garven said.

These promotions are especially important around the summer holidays.

Garven recommends offering new fresh-cut packs that will bring interesting meal ideas to the consumer, beyond the traditional cube packs of watermelon.

“A grill pack of watermelon wedges or another innovative merchandising effort can give consumers ideas about how they might use this fruit in new ways.

These creative ideas can increase sales, according to Garven.

“This generates impulse sales and excitement around the product,” she said.

Monique McLaws, marketing director for Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., agreed.

“Consumers are always looking for innovative ways to incorporate fruits into different meals, so different recipe ideas and usage are always ways to help increase demand,” she said.


Halves declining

Not all cuts are seeing growth, however, according to Garven.

She has seen demand for watermelon halves and quarters decrease.

“Historically, cut watermelon halves or quarters were the perfect solution for the consumer looking for the right amount of watermelon. Today, we see those sales shifting to mini seedless varieties,” she said.