HillFresh International has added Cepi-branded yellow Honeydews from Brazil to its rapidly expanding melon programme.
Such is the popularity of the melons, produced by Fortaleza-based Itaueira, that they are now outperforming Spanish melons during the summer period, according to HillFresh’s Stephan Schneider.
“Already we’re seeing retailers opting to stock Cepi melons in favour of Spanish yellow melons because of their attractive appearance and sweet taste,” he said. “Cepi fits perfectly with our company philosophy of being experts in taste.”
The melons are only harvested when fully ripe, enabling Itaueira to guarantee a brix level of at least 12o, and often up to 15o.
Because the product is available year-round, HillFresh expect its programme to grow significantly in the years ahead. Itaueira currently exports around 7 per cent of its melon output, so meeting the demand for extra volume will be no problem, Schneider said.
Besides flavour, this melon has a good shelf-life and appealing net packaging, which makes it appealing to consumers.
Overall, the 2015/16 South American melon campaign was one that most European importers would rather forget. Too many suppliers shipping too much product because of the poor economic situation at home effectively sunk the market, causing big losses for importers and producers.
“We are a big supplier so naturally this has had some impact on our bottom line, but with our strong focus on taste our partners know that HillFresh is a good partner and overall we’ve had a decent year,” Schneider told Fruitnet.
For a company about to celebrate its tenth anniversary, HillFresh has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. In addition to Brazilian melons, its key imports from South America include high-value lines such as mangoes, avocados and pomegranates, Peruvian grapes, citrus from Argentina and Uruguay, and Chilean apples.
“We refer to ourselves as The Expert in Taste and this philosophy has stood us in good stead over the past decade,” Schneider explained.
Going forward, the company is keen to extend this philosophy further up the supply chain. “We want to work with our customers on new strategies to increase sales through in-store promotions and the development of new types of packaging, so we’re aiming for a category management approach where we work in partnership with the retailer,” said Schneider. “Ultimately, it’s about putting more focus on our customers’ needs.”