Retail practices for melon
Improved retail practices can lead to a higher quality of melons and improve customer satisfaction. For the highest freshness on the shelf and to minimize waste, 'first-in first-out' management may be the best strategy. However, quality inspections may lead to other decisions. The staff must be well trained in handling the different types of fresh produce. They must realize that fresh products are very susceptible to handling damage and to unfavourable conditions such as too low or too high temperature.
Convenient and tasty melons
Melons are officially a vegetable, but are more often classified as a fruit. This 'fruit vegetable' has convenience and taste as important drivers for consumption. There are many types of melons, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, galia and honeydew. Preferences vary per country and consumer groups. Melons are generally eaten mature when the flesh becomes sweet. The flesh is then watery. Taste and (constant) quality are determining factors for purchasing. Well-ripened, sweet melons are usually preferred. Retailers have an important responsibility as part of the melon supply chain to offer good quality melons to consumers. Consumers will only re-purchase melons when appearance and flavour are appreciated.
Attention points in the shop
Label on a box containing first class watermelons from Brazil. Photo by WUR.
Quality standardsMelons must comply with specific requirements to be allowed on the market. The produce must comply with legislation to avoid health and environmental risks, and meet quality standards. Quality standards include regulations such as minimum fruit quality, packaging and labelling requirements. Melons must meet at least with the general minimum requirements, such as being intact and free from rotting. Additional requirements apply to Class Extra, Class I and Class II.
Cantaloupe and Galia melon. Photo by WUR.
VarietiesMelon knows several varieties. Each variety has its own characteristics of skin structure, colour and flavour.The two broad categories of melon are muskmelons and watermelons. Some of the best-known muskmelon varieties are cantaloupe, honeydew and galia. Cantaloupe has a netted, greenish-tan skin. Its flesh is orange and fragrant. Also Galia has a dense netting. Its flesh is pale-green to darker green near the skin. Honeydew has a smooth, pale yellow-green skin. Its flesh is pastel-green.
Quality inspection of melons upon receipt is also important at the retailer. Photo by WUR
Quality inspectionTo be sure of a good quality product to display, inspection upon receipt is important. Disorders may have occurred during previous parts of the supply chain. Improper post-harvest handling may have caused mechanical damages, while wrong temperature and time management may have caused overripeness. Melons often have a light colourated spot which is associated with its position on the field, where the melon rests on the ground. The lack of light causes the so-called ground spot. This is normal and not detrimental for quality.
Melons in a supermarket. Photo by Irishasel/Shutterstock.com
DisplayMelons can be displayed on refrigerated shelves (indicative at 7 to 10 °C), but this is not necessary. Usually they are displayed at ambient temperature. During non-business hours, products can be taken from the shelf and placed in a refrigerated room above the indicated minimum temperature. A proper display, clean and orderly, contributes to maintaining the quality of melons. Fruits with signs of decay or mould should be discarded
Careful handling of melon is needed to avoid damage. Photo by audiznam260921/Shutterstock.com
Handling and qualityMelons must be handled carefully to avoid damage. They should not be dropped or thrown. In addition to cosmetic damages on the external, internal bruising and flesh breakdown can also occur. Never empty a box by holding it upside down. Instead, take melons one by one by hand. To prevent disappointed customers, remove overripe, damaged and diseased melons from the display.
Did you know that?
Farmers in Japan grow watermelon in various shapes, such as cubed watermelon.These 'square watermelons' are grown in (glass) boxes and take the shape of this container. They are practical in stacking and cutting, although costly. Nowadays, even heart-shaped watermelons are grown.