Australia’s most Instagram-ed cake features a slice of watermelon that breaks the layers of cream and dacquoise. It’s a beautiful cake. On the surface it may seem an unlikely driving force behind the development of new melon varieties but as part of a bigger social media revolution it contributing to the development of new melon varieties.
Social media is not the sole reason behind the increased melon diversity we see today, another factor is a savvy consumer who wants fresh fruit that tastes, smells and feels a particularly way.
Not only are consumers influenced by what they see, read and hear on social media, but also want to eat something that’s good for them. This is particularly true amongst younger people who tend to be more adventurous and open to eating food they’ve not seen before. This trend and influence is seen the world over as people have access to a greater variety of food. There is an appetite for spending more for a better quality or value added product.
Currently Australians consume a limited range of melons, like honeydew, watermelon and rockmelon but Monsanto has an even bigger range of melons that vary not only in type but also colour, taste, smell and texture. Moving into a more diverse range of melons benefits growers as it allows them to tap into a consumer market that want to pay a premium for produce that is out of the ordinary.
Helping in this diversification is the extensive consumer trials completed by Monsanto to understand how the different factors work together and how they influence a person’s decision in the supermarket.
The extensive trials and development gives Monsanto an accurate picture of consumer likes and dislikes. This can be everything from the way a melon looks on the supermarket shelf, its colour when cut open, the smell, amount of sugar and juiciness of the fruit.
This information along with grower and buyer feedback is used in the development of melon varieties. A challenge that is coming out of these consumer trials has been feedback around wanting new product but not so new, or different looking – for example a watermelon with better texture. Consumers are turned off by produce that is too far away then what is expected.
Ultimately, it is this challenge Monsanto focuses on to deliver on grower value by balancing the different demands and needs. This balance leads to the diverse range of melons available to and suited for Australian growers and conditions.