The Melon Quality Project – An Update

Melon quality testing

The Melon Quality Project Reference Group (PRG) met in August to discuss the planned activities for the project. The PRG includes Delytics (project lead), Australian melon growers, Melons Australia, Hort Innovation, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF), Woolworths, ALDI and Rudge Produce Systems.

Quality has been highlighted as an important issue for the Melons industry since a 2019 Colmar Brunton report showed that Melon acceptability at a retail level was approximately 64%. Improving the quality and consistency of Melons available to consumers should increase consumer demand and regularity of purchase, which is often aligned with price increase, a reduction in wastage and an increase in value back to industry.

Some interesting insights from the supermarket representatives of the PRG were:

  • Overall, melons were seen as an impulse buy (not a staple) – much like all fruit.
  • Watermelons accounted for many complaints (up to 40% of fresh produce) and the vast majority of these (>99%) were aligned with overmature fruit.

The project will make a major contribution towards improving the consumer demand and value for seedless Watermelons, Rockmelons and Honeydew by developing evidence-based recommendations to industry for minimum maturity standards.

The next 12 months will be largely focused on wholesale and retail maturity monitoring to provide a vital full-season fruit quality benchmark. . Watermelons will make up approximately 60% of the sample total, with the remaining percentage split between rockmelon and honeydew. This will produce a dataset that will be summarised online for the industry to view in real time as the project progresses.

In addition to the maturity monitoring, two separate sets of three-week-long taste panels, approximately six months apart, will be held by the sensory team at QDAF. Each taste panel will watermelons, rockmelons, and honeydew. The samples used in the taste panels will range from immature, mature to overmature fruit so the panellists can experience the widest range of tastes.

Later in 2023, after Delytics has processed all the maturity monitoring and taste panel data,  Delytics and Melons Australia will run an industry event including representatives from the entire melon supply chain to meet, discuss and collectively agree on new maturity standards.

For more information on the project, please contact Johnathon Davey – Executive Officer, Melons Australia, [email protected] or 0407 032 023.