BASF remains committed to improving melon varieties with an emphasis on flavor. Matthew DeCeault, produce chain specialist at BASF Vegetable Seeds, talked about the challenges that lie ahead with regards to melon research during an American Seed Trade Association webinar.
“We’re working on a lot of things. Where we’re really focused is on improvements to flavor. Based off research that we’ve done, and I don’t think it’s come to any surprise that flavor is No. 1 in preference, flavor improvements. We continue to work on flavor to improve it, both learning from the consumer and taking those learnings back to make those incremental improvements,” DeCeault said. “Whether that’s sweeter melons or more consistent, I think those are two separate things we continue to tackle those problems with our team.”
Melon consumption has decreased steadily since 2011, equating to a 1.7% decline per year. Cantaloupes have experienced the steepest decline at 2.5% every year. Honeydews are increasing, however, at 2.3% annually.
BASF has conducted research to gauge people’s preferences with respect to all aspects of the consumer experience – sight, smell, flavor. The feedback led to the development of the Sweet Spark cantaloupe that should generate renewed interest in the cantaloupe market.
“This variety, named Sweet Spark is a variety with consistent sugar, firmness, but most importantly consistent flavor. The flavor profile allows it to eat well, even in adverse conditions affecting its sugar content. Identifying these attributes and this response from consumers during tasting allowed the retailer to deliver the variety in their own label and feel confident offering the variety to consumers in the winter months,” DeCeault added.