The new Exceed watermelon from Staay Food Group and Hazera has been nominated for the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award

Hazera and Staay Food Group have confirmed that the Exceed mini watermelon has been nominated for the 2024 Fruit Logistica Innovation Award, with the companies describing it as a “proud moment” in their long-standing partnership.

Exceed watermelon Hazera Staay

Exceed watermelon Hazera Staay

The winner will be announced at Fruit Logistica in Berlin, where Staay will be present to premier the Exceed watermelon.

Mark Loojenga, marketing manager at Staay Food Group, and Michal Taraska, global value chain lead at Hazera, said that the Exceed watermelon had earned its nomination through a unique combination of qualities that benefit growers, retailers and consumers.

“The Exceed watermelon is a durable and eco-friendly variety, with strong resistance to diseases like powdery mildew and has plants that provide multiple harvests,” said Loojenga. “Not only does this make life easier for the grower, but it also requires less fungicides and significantly less water than the production of traditional watermelons.”

Taraska explained that this also helped reduce food waste. “Exceed makes it possible to reduce losses in production and during transport,” he noted. “And due to the variety’s extended shelf-life of over 5-10 days longer than traditional watermelons, this variety displays a long-lasting freshness in both supermarkets and consumer’s homes.”

With a compact, uniform size, the Exceed watermelon is answering what is a growing call in the northern European and US markets for smaller watermelons.

“The size is suitable for ever smaller households and is easy to keep in the fridge,” said Loojenga. “And they’re seedless, which is both a major convenience for consumers and a waste-saver. But it’s the taste and colour they come back for.” Taraska agreed that taste was crucial, pointing out that Exceed had a “really sweet and crispy taste”, the result of its above-average Brix level.

The launch of the Exceed mini watermelon for the European market will take place at Fruit Logistica, where Staay Food Group will be exhibiting. “Here, we will also display a selection of other products we grow and offer ourselves,” noted Loojenga. “For the first time we can show our three club varieties of coloured pears together – the Red Conference, Early Desire and Dazzling Gold are all exclusively available through Staay Food Group. Secondly, we will showcase our hydroponic lettuces, and finally our wide range of available vine tomatoes.”

“In addition, we will bring special attention to our branch in Venlo, which focuses on the foodservice industry,” he continued. “This location provides quite a unique service for the German market, where customers can buy products per box instead of per pallet and can combine different products on one pallet. This is ideal for restaurants, who usually don’t need entire pallets of one product.”

The prize-giving ceremony for the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award will take place on 9 February 2024, at the FLIA Technology special exhibition area between Halls 1.1 and 2.1. According to Loojenga and Taraska, Exceed’s nomination “shows we are on the right track in our team effort to successfully align the development, cultivation, sales and marketing of excellent and innovative products”.