Pompano, Florida-based Ayco Farms Inc. expects its Central American melon production to reach 4m cartons in the coming season, up from the 1.7m cartons it handled in 2007/08, after purchasing a new farm and packhouse in Guatemala.
The company cited pressure from supermarkets to fill year-round programmes as the main reason for its expansion. “We’re emerging as a year-round melon producer on the East Coast,” key account manager Ken Kodish told The Packer.
Mr Kodish said the company now grows virtually all its Central American melons whereas two years ago it relied almost exclusively on other growers.
Ayco relies on Guatemalan and Honduran imports from mid-November to the beginning of May, when the US season gets underway. The company expects to handle 1.5m-1.6m cartons of cantaloupes and 1-1.2m cartons of honeydews, the balance being made up of watermelons. They will be marketed under the Ayco brand, while individual watermelons will be sold under the company’s Mini Me label.