While most watermelon producers have had a dicey spring, things have been pretty much right on target for Dulcinea Farms LLC in Ladera Ranch, CA, with its lineup of full-sized “Ruby Bliss” and “PureHeart” mini watermelons and Tuscan-style “White Bliss” white-netted cantaloupe.
“Our ‘PureHeart’ mini watermelon deal is going well and has been all winter long out of Mexico,” John McGuigan, vice president of sales and marketing told The Produce News May 18. “We grew in multiple locations from south to north — Colima, Guaymas, Hermosillo and Tampico — with good results in each. The next few weeks into and post-Memorial Day are some of the busiest of the year for minis, and we are well positioned to have a great end of May and June. We are also transitioning right now both east and west into our domestic production in Florida on the east and in Yuma, Arizona, in the west. Our customers are prepared to promote, and we have marketing events like coupon drops in many markets to support our retail partners.”
Dulcinea is making a concerted effort to promote its branded products at retail, with new labeling on its melons that “represent a more ‘family of products’“ branding effort “across all of our offerings,” with the goal of conveying “a consistency to what the consumer sees at retail,” Mr. McGuigan said.
The company does not share information about growing areas and acreage under production, but Mr. McGuigan said that the program pays equal attention to its core products “in all areas on all our varieties.”
Transportation and rising fuels costs have been problematic for most growers this season, and Dulcinea has maneuvered itself to minimize the impact of those problems on its customers. “Transportation is only problematic in the short term. Trucks may pick up a day later than anticipated, but with proper planning and good partnerships, we get covered. We provide transportation services as a part of our customer-service package, and we have covered all of our loads so far year-to-date,” Mr. McGuigan said. “We are affected on cost of goods due to rising fuel costs, and all of the internal transportation of our products from field to cooler. But we take that into account when pricing and work to cover all of our production costs including fuel.”
In addition to its watermelon and cantaloupe lineup, Dulcinea also carries a line of organic “PureHeart” minis, on-the-vine “Amadoro” tomatoes and bite-sized “Primodoro” tomatoes, which is among the top-selling tomato brands in Italy.
Mr. McGuigan gave credit for Dulcinea’s success to its long-standing team of employees, saying, “It’s good to have a consistent and high-quality team from field to sales to back office.”