Quality Improvement Underway for Australian Melons

19 July 2022

Work is now underway to help boost the eating quality and consumer demand of Australian melons.

Crop quality specialists, Delytics Ltd, have been contracted by Hort Innovation to lead a results-focused quality improvement project in collaboration with Melons Australia, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Rudge Produce Systems Pty Ltd. Hort Innovation is a not-for-profit, grower-owned company that delivers more than $120 million in research, development and marketing activities on behalf of Australian horticulture each year.

The strategic levy investment project Quality Improvements in the Melon Supply Chain (VM21001) is part of the Hort Innovation Melon Fund.

Supported by industry through Hort Innovation, this 18-month project aims to overcome the current challenge of poor-quality fruit that is believed to be hindering sales and growth in both the domestic and export markets. In the Melon Consumer Insights report by Colmar Brunton (VM18000) in August 2019, it was reported that 26% of their participants had a negative eating experience with melons.

Johnathon Davey, Executive Officer of Melons Australia says, “This project was identified as the highest priority for our industry in setting a bright future for Australian melons. We are excited to be involved in the Melon Quality improvement project, ensuring industry ownership and engagement throughout. We hope to get some actionable steps out of the project to improve Melon quality across the board.”

"We will be working across the supply chain to develop and adopt a set of minimum maturity standards that will ensure consistent quality," Mr Davey explains. "This will provide a more successful future for the industry by increasing demand. It's about improving the eating quality at the consumer point of sale for rockmelon, watermelon and honeydew. Once we get that right, we know naturally that demand and consumption will grow."

Project leaders, Delytics Ltd, has extensive experience helping fruit industries achieve measurable long-term quality improvements through the setting and adoption of minimum maturity standards. In 2016, Delytics helped the unregulated New Zealand citrus industry increase the consumer acceptability of Navel Oranges from 67% to over 80% in all seasons since. Then in 2017, they led a three-year Hort Innovation project that boosted the consumer acceptance for Australian table grapes from 70% to mid-80% on an ongoing basis. Delytics also assisted the Australian Citrus industry lift the consumer acceptance of navel oranges from 76% to consistently above 90%.

This project expects to deliver similar results for Australian melons by developing minimum quality standards for Seedless Watermelon, Rockmelon and Honeydew.

The project will begin with the wholesale and retail maturity monitoring of melons.

Delytics Managing Director, Mark Loeffen says, “The monitoring data will help us better understand the maturity variability across the key varieties and provide us with the information we need to develop new evidence-based maturity standards.”

Once the quality monitoring gets underway, Delytics will make a graphical summary of the data available online in real-time for Australian melon supply chain participants to view 24/7.