Quality has been highlighted as an important issue for the Melon industry since a 2019 Colmar Brunton report showed that Melon acceptability at a retail level was approximately 64%.
This has led to the strategic levy investment project Quality Improvements in the Melon Supply Chain (VM21001), which is funded by the Hort Innovation Melon Fund and is being led by Delytics. Delytics has previously worked with both the table grape and citrus industries, successfully improving quality and consumer demand.
The overall objective of this project is to develop industry acceptable minimum quality standards for Seedless Watermelon, Rockmelon and Honeydew. Once the project is completed these standards will help improve the eating quality and consumer demand of Australian melons.
Improving the quality and consistency of Melons available to consumers should increase consumer demand and the regularity of purchase, which is often aligned with increased prices, reduced wastage and an increase in value back to industry.
The project team are assessing melon quality at both wholesale and retail to benchmark the quality of melons currently available to consumers. This benchmark will prove invaluable to demonstrate the expected quality improvements once the maturity standards developed by this project are adopted by the key participants in the Australian melon supply chain. Wholesale and retail monitoring of melon quality began in August 2022 and will continue until August 2023 to provide 12 full months of data. By 30 November 2022, the project team had completed one third of the planned inspections. The inspection results will be summarised online for the industry to view in real time as the project progresses, stay tuned in early 2023 as this becomes available.
Along with the maturity monitoring, the project also includes two sets of consumer taste panels, which are being carried out by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) consumer and sensory team. Each set of taste panels is three weeks long, with one week each allocated to Seedless Watermelon, Rockmelon and Honeydew. The first set of taste panels has already been completed and the data is currently being analysed. The learnings and results from this will be used in the planning of the second set of taste panels, which is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2023.
The project reference group for this project includes Delytics Ltd (project lead), Australian melon growers, Melons Australia, Hort Innovation, QDAF, Woolworths, ALDI and Rudge Produce Systems.
Some interesting insights from the supermarket representatives of the PRG were:
Get up to date 'live' data on the Melon Quality Project by clicking the button below.
The data collected and presented via the button below is focused on:
- Brix Compliance
- Firmness and Weight