Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Guatemala and Caribbean Gold

Well, I have been busy. Work has me traveling around, just back from a brief trip to Guatemala.

This is my second visit and I really do enjoy going there. I think part of it is the food, I just love the food there. But also, I feel very welcomed, maybe that is because I have nice colleagues that work there. From all accounts it is a dangerous place, just looking around, there are guns everywhere. I never felt threatened but you never know.

This was a work trip, so I didn't have much time for photography or sightseeing. Just lots of melons. Thousands of acres of melons. Enough to supply the US and Europe for the winter. And that is why I was there. You see, my company (which shall remain nameless) has no market share in Guatemala. In fact, no company has market share in Central America for melons except 1.

It really is amazing that one melon variety transformed and dominated Central American melon growing, and continues to do so.

OK, not completely nameless.

This brings us to the title of the post, Caribbean Gold is the only (except for 0.1%) melon grown in Central America. And believe me, that is a lot of melons, somewhere around 15,000 hectares. Why is it so popular? It must be the fantastic taste, right?

Well, Caribbean Gold does many things right: Growers love it because it produces well, has good resistance against disease, matures all at once, has high sugars and can be harvested in one or two picks. Shippers love it because it can travel long distances without damage, and retailers love it because it can sit on their shelves for weeks without going bad.

The problem is, it does two things really bad: Taste and Texture. It has no taste and is crunchy like dry particle board. Consumers don't really like it. In fact, there has been a lot of push back to retailers because it has no flavor. The joy of biting into a nice, juicy, flavorful cantaloupe is gone.

So, our goal is to bring back flavor, while still trying to please all the other players in the game. How are we doing? That remains to be seen but you may find some better melons in a store near you soon.