Tokyo-based fruit and vegetable distributor Sun Globe Foods has marked the launch of a new government-backed Japanese produce export-promotion campaign with a trial shipment of Japanese watermelons to Dubai.

Sun Globe Foods – the Japanese government’s designated export promotion agency - sent 54 Matsuribayashi-777 and Haru-no-Danran watermelons, weighing 11.5kg each, on June 13 to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) state, following a promotional tour by a Tottori Prefecture produce delegation.

'Since Dubai's watermelons are not very tasty, we suggested they import Tottori watermelons,' Norihiro Ogura, agricultural production section manager for JA Tottori Chuou, a branch of the national central union of agricultural co-operatives (JA Zenchu), told Fruitnet.

The deal marks the first phase of Sun Globe Foods' 'Oishii Nippon' (Tasty Japan) campaign, launched under the auspices of Japan's ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

The melon shipment was received by Daisho Emirates, a Japanese food importer and distributor in the UAE, and sold exclusively to Spinneys, a supermarket chain dealing in premium products in the Middle East.

Mr Ogura said the watermelons were well received and fetched 94.5 dirham (US$26) per kg. Promotions included in-store tastings.

Sun Globe Foods hopes to forge more long-term partnerships with other UAE importers, having already set up an office in Dubai and a warehouse in Sharjah.

'If the response in is anything to go by, prospects look good,' Mr Ogura said. 'We have received comments from Spinneys supermarkets and hotels, saying they were waiting for more shipments.'