This article appeared in the July 2002 issue of Vegetable Production & Marketing News,
edited by Frank J. Dainello, Ph.D., and produced by Extension Horticulture,
Texas Cooperative Extension, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

Future Called Promising
for Personal Watermelons

Researchers say the smaller version
of the fruit should mean convenience
for the cost-minded consumer

This article, by Doug Ohlemeier, appeared in
“The Packer,” May 20, 2002.

AUTRYVILLE, N.C. - Smaller, more personal watermelons have a promising future in the consumer marketplace, says one of the newest board members of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Orlando, Florida.

Brent Jackson, co-owner and sale manager of Jackson’ Farming Co., Autryville, is experimenting this season with two new smaller melons. “We will market them as personal melons,” he said. “In my mind, for several years I have been trying to make watermelons more convenient for consumers.” The 20-pound melons aren’t the definition of convenience for consumers anymore, Jackson said. “Anyone can pick up a smaller melon and take it home, and put it in their refrigerator,” Jackson said. “From the research that has been done, most people want to put them in their refrigerators, but our refrigerators are getting full.”

Consumers would buy more smaller melons if they were offered, Jackson said. “People cut a 20-pound melon,” Jackson said. “They can’t sit down and eat it at one time. But if you take a 5- or 10-pound melon, two to four people can have plenty of watermelon.”

Jackson is growing two smaller melons: one is 4 to 5 pounds, and the other is 10 to 12 pounds. Both are seedless. “If we could produce a smaller melon, we would generate additional sales, Jackson said.

Johnny Holifield, vice president of sales for Capital Produce Distributors, Irmo, S.C., agrees that many consumers want smaller melons. He cited Florida consumers as examples. “Most people down there are on fixed incomes and are elderly,” he said.

To keep pace with growing demand, Jackson Farming is adding a new 6,000 square-foot watermelon shed this season. “We’ve been mighty blessed during the last several years,” he said. “Our business is growing, and has been growing in leaps and bounds. We were just running out of space.” Jackson and his wife, Debbie, started Jackson Farms in 1978. They switched exclusively to produce in 1981 after being disillusioned with the eternally low grain market.