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Itaueira of Brazil Anticipates China Market Access for its Melons

November 02, 2016

Produce Report recently interviewed Adriana Ribeiro do Prado, one of the owners of Itaueira Agropecuária, to discuss the upcoming entry of Brazilian melons to China next year. Itaueira is a family-owned Brazilian company founded in 1983 that specializes in the production of top-quality fresh fruits.

Adriana Ribeiro do Prado, Itaueira

The company is famous for its melon variety Rei, which means “king” in Portuguese, a unique variety of yellow honeydew melon with a sweet taste that took ten years to develop and is only available from Itaueira. In Brazil, this variety sells for double the price of its next competitor, which Ms. Prado attributed to their labor-intensive selective harvesting methods to ensure the sweetness of each melon picked and set the fruit apart from its competitors in terms of quality and customer satisfaction: “We come to the same field ten times just to pick the right ones. We spend the whole week picking, just so they get the right amount of sun and get perfect. It’s not easy.”

The main Brazilian melon season is from August to May. Itaueira grows its melons across 2,500 hectares in the northeast of Brazil, giving a total yield of 75,000 tons per year. Approximately 90% of this is sold domestically, with the remaining 10% exported. Itaueira currently exports to the U.S., Canada, Chile, Dubai, Russia, and Europe.

Brazilian melons are expected to be permitted to enter China in 2017. Chinese officials have already visited farms to sample the produce and have confirmed the produce quality and the absence of food-safety issues such as insects and diseases that might prohibit China access, setting the stage for the melons to be exported to China next season.

Rei melons

According to Ms. Prado, Itaueira’s focus is on low volumes to specific stores who wish to stock premium fruit for their customers at a reasonable price. The company intends to start in China with three distributors, who will arrange tastings in stores, before granting exclusive access to a single distributor the following year based on the results.

The shelf life of Itaueira’s melons is 45 days, which is very good for melons. The fruit is kept fresh by a rapid turnaround from harvesting to shipping under cold-chain conditions, which allows for the 26 days transit time to Hong Kong and distribution to consumers.

Itaueira’s melons have already received positive feedback from Chinese companies at Asia Fruit Logistica, which Ms. Prado explained was due to the sweetness and higher Brix values of 12–14 or above compared to local produce.

Image source: MZMC


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