Weekly Product Updates

W41: Watermelon Update

Fresh Watermelon
Fruits
Guatemala
Market & Price Trends
Kenya
Published Oct 20, 2023
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In W41 in the watermelon landscape, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has declared the end of the Salmonella Newport outbreak associated with watermelon farms in Indiana, United States (US). The names of these farms have not been disclosed, but they have been linked to several outbreaks, including one in 2022. Both cantaloupe and watermelon were implicated in the 2023 outbreak. The investigation found environmental samples matching the Salmonella strain responsible for the outbreak on one farm of interest and the surrounding areas. While the outbreak is over and there's no current risk to the public, the farms' involment in previous outbreaks indicates ongoing food safety concerns related to melons from the Southwest Indiana growing region.

Guatemala, a significant exporter of fruits and vegetables, is facing logistical disruptions due to ongoing political unrest and protests within the country. These protests have resulted in road closures, blockades, and fuel shortages, significantly impacting the fruit and vegetable supply chain. Maritime and trucking companies are reevaluating their operational strategies in response to the unrest, causing export delays. Guatemala exports various fruits, including watermelon, mango, limes, melon, watermelon, mangosteen, and banana. The main export destinations for Guatemalan fruits include the US, Holland, England, Spain, Italy, France, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and others. In 2022, the US imported significant quantities of fruits and vegetables from Guatemala. Trade and shipping associations, including the Guatemalan Produce Trade Association (GPTA) and the Association of Shipowners of Guatemala (Asonav), have expressed concerns about the impact of these disruptions on international trade and various industries in the country.

In Spain, Cooperativas Agro-alimentarias Castilla-La Mancha reviewed the melon and watermelon campaigns, expressing concerns about the low profitability for farmers. The campaign began with high prices, with 5 to 8% of the production sold. However, prices dropped significantly soon after, falling below production costs. Export volumes also suffered due to lower temperatures in major European markets. Despite excellent product quality and slightly increased production compared to 2022, prices remained low.

The melon and watermelon sector called for a reflection on the production model, as many farmers struggle to achieve economic benefits from their crops in most years. The planted area for melons increased slightly compared to the previous year, with 6 thousand hectares (ha), while watermelon covered 3.5 thousand ha.

Lastly, the Sukari F1 watermelon variety is prevalent in Kenya due to its outstanding taste, nutritional value, and consistent quality. Its high yield per acre is of great interest in Kenya's agricultural landscape, contributing to nourishment, income, and economic growth. The yield per acre for Sukari F1 watermelons varies based on factors such as local climate, soil conditions, farming expertise, and market prices. In Kenya, this variety potentially generates over USD 3.34 thousand per acre (KES 500,000/acre), but proper cultivation practices and access to favorable markets are essential for maximizing income from watermelon cultivation.

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