Lower volumes from Brazil firm up European prices for start of Costa Rican campaign

Favourable weather has made for a positive outlook for the Costa Rican melon campaign, which has just got underway. El Niño has had minimal impact on production and the first containers have left Costa Rica bound for the European market.

LeFresh meons

LeFresh founders Gerbert van Egmond (left) and Frank Levarht

“We will receive our first containers in week 7 and the last ones in week 18 or 19,” Frank Levarht of LeFresh told Fruitnet.

With Brazil sending lower volumes to Europe, mainly due to climatic issues, Levarht says market prices are currently good, even though demand is not particularly strong.

LeFresh was formed in July 2022 by Levarht and another industry veteran, Gerbert van Egmond, as a business unit of Ridderkerk-based United Fruits.

The melons are sourced from Costa Rican producer Rica Fruta, in which United Fruits now has a stake.

Rica Fruta supplies varieties including Galia, Cantaloupe, Piel de Sapo and Yellow Honeydew, as well as various types of watermelon.

In terms of market trends, Levarht says mini seedless watermelons continue to gain market in most European countries as consumers opt increasingly for a more convenient alternative to traditional varieties.

LeFresh is currently trialling a number of new varieties which it plans to launch commercially in 2025.

According to Levarht, the company is also investing in making its melon offer greener. “We are increasingly switching to biological control agents as part of a long-term strategy to reduce waste and minimise our impact on the environment,” he said.

“At the same time we are overhauling workplace practices to ensure that our employees have a great work-life balance, which is a crucial part of building a healthy work environment and keeping them happy. In other words, we’re committed to balancing planet, people and profit to keep on producing in the longer term.”