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 Title Page
 Mission
 Objective
 Abstract
 Keywords
 General overview
 The melon industry in Central...
 The melon industry in the United...
 Price structure and considerat...
 Supply of melons
 Bibliography






Group Title: International working paper series - International Agricultural Trade and Development Center - IW 01-06
Title: The demand for and supply of Central American melons in the United States
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053825/00001
 Material Information
Title: The demand for and supply of Central American melons in the United States
Alternate Title: International Agricultural Trade and Development Center
Physical Description: 13 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Burgos Caceres, Sigfrido
Van Blokland, P. J
University of Florida -- Food and Resource Economics Dept
International Agricultural Trade and Development Center
Publisher: University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Food and Resource Economics Dept.
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: <2001>
 Subjects
Subject: Melons -- Marketing -- United States   ( lcsh )
Melons -- Economic aspects -- Central America   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 13).
Statement of Responsibility: by Sigfrido Burgos Caceres and P.J. van Blokland.
General Note: "June 2001."
General Note: "IW 01-06"--Cover.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053825
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Marston Science Library, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002764316
oclc - 48177738
notis - ANP2342

Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Mission
        Page i
    Objective
        Page i
    Abstract
        Page 1
    Keywords
        Page 1
    General overview
        Page 2
    The melon industry in Central America
        Page 3
        Page 4
    The melon industry in the United States
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
    Price structure and considerations
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Supply of melons
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Bibliography
        Page 13
Full Text

IW 01-06


INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE
AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER


THE DEMAND FOR AND SUPPLY OF CENTRAL AMERICAN
MELONS IN THE UNITED STATES
By

Sigfrido Burgos Caceres and P. J. van Blokland

IW 01-6 June 2001


Its UNIVERSITY OF

WFLORIDA
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Food and Resource Economics Department
Gainesville, Florida 32611









MISSION AND OBJECTIVE
OF THE
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE
AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER


MISSION:

To enhance understanding of the vital role that international agricultural trade
plays in the economic development of Florida, and to provide an institutional
base for interaction on agricultural trade issues and problems.

OBJECTIVE:

The Center's objective is to initiate and enhance teaching, research, and extension
programs focused on international agricultural trade and development issues. It
does so by:

1. Serving as a focal point and resource base for research on international
agricultural trade, related development, and policy issues.

2. Coordinating and facilitating formal and informal educational
opportunities for students, faculty, and Floridians in general, on
agricultural trade issues and their implications.

3. Facilitatingthe dissemination ofagricultural trade-related research results
and publications.

4. Encouraging interaction between theUniversity community and business
and industry groups, state and federal agencies and policy makers, and
other trade centers in the examination and discussion of agricultural trade
policy questions.









MISSION AND OBJECTIVE
OF THE
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE
AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER


MISSION:

To enhance understanding of the vital role that international agricultural trade
plays in the economic development of Florida, and to provide an institutional
base for interaction on agricultural trade issues and problems.

OBJECTIVE:

The Center's objective is to initiate and enhance teaching, research, and extension
programs focused on international agricultural trade and development issues. It
does so by:

1. Serving as a focal point and resource base for research on international
agricultural trade, related development, and policy issues.

2. Coordinating and facilitating formal and informal educational
opportunities for students, faculty, and Floridians in general, on
agricultural trade issues and their implications.

3. Facilitatingthe dissemination ofagricultural trade-related research results
and publications.

4. Encouraging interaction between theUniversity community and business
and industry groups, state and federal agencies and policy makers, and
other trade centers in the examination and discussion of agricultural trade
policy questions.










The Demand for and Supply of Central American Melons in the
United States






By:
Sigfrido Burgos Caceres'
and
P.J. van Blokland







Abstract:

This paper outlines the recent changes in melon exports from Central America to
the United States. It emphasizes the encouragement from local governments
and the U.S. Consumer response to even supplies of high quality low priced
melons. Considerable attention is given to the supply and demand situation and
how this situation has varied in the last decade. Statistics are used to illustrate
changes in supply and demand as trade restrictions ease.

Keywords:

Melons, Central America, supply, demand, statistics, technology, trade, consumers,
producers, and governments.


1 P.J. van Blokland is a professor and Sigfrido Burgos Caceres is a student in the Food and Resource
Economics Department at the University of Florida.










The Demand for and Supply of Central American Melons in the
United States






By:
Sigfrido Burgos Caceres'
and
P.J. van Blokland







Abstract:

This paper outlines the recent changes in melon exports from Central America to
the United States. It emphasizes the encouragement from local governments
and the U.S. Consumer response to even supplies of high quality low priced
melons. Considerable attention is given to the supply and demand situation and
how this situation has varied in the last decade. Statistics are used to illustrate
changes in supply and demand as trade restrictions ease.

Keywords:

Melons, Central America, supply, demand, statistics, technology, trade, consumers,
producers, and governments.


1 P.J. van Blokland is a professor and Sigfrido Burgos Caceres is a student in the Food and Resource
Economics Department at the University of Florida.









General Overview


Introduction

Since early 1980s, many Latin-American countries and governments engaged in
structural adjustment programs. Many of these were targeted toward the
industrial manufacturing and agricultural production sectors of the economy in an
effort to increase the overall export levels, reduce unemployment in rural areas,
increase international funding to Central America and push forward lagging
developing economies. The private and public efforts were focused on
enhancing traditional and non-traditional products. The latter consisted of:
coffee, cotton, bananas, shrimp, cigars, melons and precious woods. The
programs were based under three fundamental underlying premises:

1. Foreign technical assistance to growers and small farmers
2. Reduced taxes by local government for exporting initiatives
3. Low interest rates on agricultural financing of certain projects

As a result, many entrepreneurs decided on a full commitment toward exporting
traditional and non-traditional products to the U.S., Canada and Europe to
promote domestic economic development. Not surprisingly, some segments
were more successful than others, because many were tied to climatic
conditions, land availability, geographical location, project feasibility and
economic profitability of the project.

Two agricultural products showed spectacular short and long-term success and
growth. These were shrimp and melons. The cantaloupe and honeydew melon
industry in Central America has undergone major changes during the last 15
years, both in production techniques or market behavior. This study concentrates
on melons and suggests why they succeeded.

Report Objectives

The current study has three main objectives:

1. Gain general knowledge of the melon industry in Central America and the
exporting process as a whole.
2. Define and understand the factors affecting supply and demand
3. Comprehend how supply and demand works together in real time to
determine the pricing structure of melons in the U.S.









The Melon Industry in Central America


History and Evolution

The export driven melon production business started in the early 1980s through
Central American governmental programs. Many individuals saw a profitable
opportunity to attain some support from their corresponding governments, and
start the exporting process of melons from Central America to the U.S., Canada
and Europe.

Table #1. Registered Big-scale producers in the Central American Region.

Country # Producers Percentage # Producers Percentage
in 1987 in 2000
Guatemala 12 40 7 50
Honduras 8 27 4 29
El Salvador 0 0 -
Nicaragua 4 13 1 7
Costa Rica 6 20 2 14
Total 30 100 14 100
Source: Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS, and U.S.D.A. in January 2001.
Market conditions have changed significantly since 1985 because of
technological advances, competition, customs regulations, sanitary requirements,
volumes, consumption, prices, production procedures, varieties and economic
performance of both the U.S. and the Central American Region. Generally,
competition has increased and the market has become less regulated.

The "invisible hand" of the market has played a significant role in determining the
market structure, by eliminating those competitors that were weak financially
provided low quality output and were generally small.

Current Situation

Many of the providers are local businessmen that started this venture many
years ago, and some have made strategic alliances with major U.S. fruit and
vegetable firms. The alliances are targeted to improve fruit distribution and
marketing in the U.S., improved pool of funding, increased market presence,
technical assistance and guaranteed FOB prices. Table #2 shows the three
major U.S. firms that have had an important presence in the Central American
melon-exporting effort:









Table #2. U.S. firms with important presence in Central America.

Company State Year Founded
Dole Fresh Fruit Co. California 1922
Del Monte Fruit Inc. California 1916
Chiquita Inc. Ohio 1990
Source: www.Hoovers.com

Table #3 shows recent U.S. imports.

Table #3. Partial U.S. Imports of Cantaloupes (Annual & Quarterly Data 1999
- 2000)metric tons and dollars

Oct-Sep Oct-Dec Oct-Dec Oct-Sep Oct-Dec Oct-Dec
'99 '99 '00 '99 '99 '00
Volume MT Volume MT Volume MT $1000 $1000 $1000

475,392 57,692 84,912 147,499 16,347 23,185
Source: Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS, and U.S.D.A. in January 2001.

Table 4 shows the Central American sources of cantaloupes.

Table #4. Partial U.S. Imports of Cantaloupes by Exporting Country

Country Oct-Sep '99 Oct-Dec '99 Oct-Dec '00 Oct-Sep '99 Oct-Dec '99 Oct-Dec '00
Region Volume MT Volume MT Volume MT $1000 $1000 $1000
Mexico 191073 32775 38671 71677 10289 10422
Guatemala 83572 16063 32566 28202 4873 9598
Costa Rica 83164 0 380 26620 0 81
Honduras 88187 6640 9972 15750 888 2313
Nicaragua 23516 1770 2659 4200 237 616
Others 5879 443 664 1050 59 154
Total 475,392 57,692 84,912 147,499 16,347 23,185
Source: Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS, and U.S.D.A. in January 2001.

During 1999, the price per ton was $310. For the 3 month period of 1999 the
price per ton was slightly reduced to $283 and finally during the last three months
of the year 2000 the price per ton was $273.

Table 5 shows the U.S. imports since 1995.

Table #5. Historic U.S. Melon Imports by Value [$1000]

1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
167450 198811 226502 250921 277917
The United Stated has been steadily increasing the dollar amount of imported
fresh melons due to increasing U.S. demand.








Structure of the Industry


Agriculture is usually presented as a perfect competitive structural market.
However, industry structures vary over time, as industries are faced with
changing external factors. Thus, their structural composition is subject to
modifications and adjustments.

Diagram 1 shows the generic market structure of the Central American melon
exporting industry.

Technological Improvements

Since the beginning of the enhanced melon production phase, there have been
several technological innovations that have caused mayor changes in seed
quality, planting density, production processes, cultural practices, efficient
machinery, harvesting techniques and packing tactics. Nevertheless, the most
important technological innovation can be divided in 3 categories:

1. Productivity Innovation: Higher productivity / Ha.
2. Pathological Innovations: Pesticide resistant plants
3. Post-Harvest Innovation: Permeable bags

Some firms such as Novartis, Peto Seed and ASGROW have worked to improve
melon results in Central America. These improvements are closely linked to the
increasing concerns expressed by growers regarding better melon yields, pest
and disease losses and how to increase the shelf life.

New varieties and hybrids have increased the overall performance and volume
per farm. Also, fungi, bacteria and pest resistant varieties have been developed
in order to reduce losses and to lower the cost of fumigations and preserve the
natural microenvironments. Israeli engineers have made breakthroughs in bag
development to allow melons to increase their shelf life through the use of a
specially manufactured bag that permits gas exchange, hence reducing the
amount of C02 and ethylene inside the bag.

The Melon Industry in the United States

Facts

The USDA reported 2.175 billion pounds of U.S. cantaloupes in 1999, up 1.4%
from the prior year. California, Arizona and Texas were the leading cantaloupe-
producing states, accounting for 90% of the output. California alone accounted
for two-thirds of U.S. production [USDA; Ag. Stat. Report].










Diagram #1. Structural Overview of the Industry




SProducers Packing Hous'
-->f Producers
Growers --- Processors
Growers



Shipping I

Final Consumers




Ports and Fa

Retailers

U.S.D.A

Advertising
Firms



Wholesalers
Quality A
Firms





Cu
Br














6









Seasonality


U.S. cantaloupe production is highly seasonal, with peak output occurring from
May to September. During May, the first domestic shipments of the season
originate from South Texas, California and Arizona. By the first week of June,
Georgia and other southern, central and eastern states begin to ship
cantaloupes. The central and eastern states ship mostly during July and August.

Demand

Cantaloupe is consumed almost exclusively fresh. U.S. cantaloupe consumption
has increased modestly in recent years, rising from about 6-7 pounds per person
during the early 1970s to about 8-9 pounds per person during the early 1990s.
This rise is due partly to the increased availability of imported cantaloupes during
the winter and spring months, which is considered to be the "U.S. off-season".

Prices

Domestic grower prices for cantaloupes are highly variable due to seasonal
changes in the volume of production. FOB shipping points' prices usually
average between $5 and $12 per 40-pound carton during May when the
domestic season begins. Prices typically drop to their lowest levels by July, when
California's San Joaquin Valley reaches peak production and remain relatively
flat during July, August and September. Prices usually then rise during October
and November when the San Joaquin Valley season ends [Warren, M].

Production Facts

The census of agriculture reported 8015 farms with 99,386 harvested acres of
Cantaloupes. Pennsylvania and Texas have the largest number of farms, while
California reported the largest acreage. About 85% of the total U.S. cantaloupe
acreage was irrigated in 1992. All of the acreage in California, Arizona and
Colorado was irrigated and 79% in Texas.

Table 6 U.S. melon average, prices and values (1997 2000)

1997 1998 1999 2000
Area planted (acres) 106,970 102,330 109,120 102,430
Area harvested 102,710 100,560 107,350 98,070
Yield (cwt/acre) 203 214 210 207
Production (1000 cwt) 20,840 21,492 22,577 20,292
Price ($/cwt) 17.95 17.80 17.20 17.70
Value of production 374,110 383,128 388,812 359,417
($1000)
Source: Agricultural Statistics Board, NASS, and USDA, January 2001









These numbers show remarkable stability over the last few years. Acreage
planted and harvested has varied around 9%, due presumably to the very stable
prices.


Price Structure and Considerations

Cost Structures

According to information gathered through telephone conversations with melon
growers, brokers and shippers there are three major structures to consider.
These are the production, packing and sales costs.

Production Costs:

This group comprises all expenses incurred from the land preparation until the
fruit is harvested on the field. Costs include fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation,
seeds, weeding, and chemical applications. Most of these inputs are imported
and must be purchased in US dollars. Thus exchange rate variations can raise
the overall production cost without increasing any productivity parameter.

Packing and Box Cost

These costs vary directly because they change with production volumes and field
productivity. They include items like boxes [different sizes, qualities and counts],
labels, labor, plastic bags, machinery depreciation, stickers, pallets, coolers,
packing line maintenance and inside-farm warehouse handling.

Sales (Selling Cost)

Sales costs comprise a very important segment of the overall cost, because they
are usually non-negotiable. The selling cost is the first one to be paid whenever
the fruit is sold because the sales commission is charged by the broker and is
subtracted immediately from the sales ticket.
The sales commission varies depending on the broker, but it usually runs
between 8 to 12% of the gross sale. Once the commission has been subtracted,
the broker proceeds to pay the customs duties, custom broker fees, warehouse
handling, fumigations, ocean freight charges, private fruit inspections, USDA
inspections and repacking/reconditioning.

Under the shipping cost [ocean freight charges] segment many ocean freight
service lines charge fixed fees for their services depending on the location where
the merchandise is shipped. Whenever all expenses are paid, the broker goes
ahead and returns the net proceedings to the grower so he can pay packing and
productions costs.









Table 7 shows a typical average cost structure for a Central American medium
size to big size grower.

Table # 7. Average Cost Structure per box of Cantaloupe melons



1 Production $4.50 50
2 Packing $2.40 27
3 Selling $2.10 23
Total $9.00 100
Source: Conversation with several industry experts at Miami and California.
Production cost is about 50% of the cost structure, although it is the last cost to
be covered due to the liquidation process by the broker. Moreover, most of the
production cost is financed through short-term and medium-term loans and other
financial instruments that allow the firm to leverage their financial position.

Average Break Even Point

There are many firms out in the market that are having difficulties reaching
breakeven price per box, particularly because of volatile prices, higher volumes
coming in from Mexico, higher customer preferences and reduced pricing power
by brokers. Probably, an average breakeven price per box for Central American
growers would be close to $9.00/40 pound carton box for Cantaloupe Melons
and $6.50/40 pound carton box for Honeydew Melons. Obviously, overall cost
varies from grower to grower. Nevertheless, their cost is possibly between +/- 50
cents for both breakeven prices. Typically, prices go below and above the
breakeven price per box several times during the season, meaning that growers
try to counterbalance gains and losses until the end of the season. Once the
exporting window is over they finally determine the overall performance of the
operation.



Demand for Melons

During the last 10 years the U.S. has undergone abrupt changes in technological
development, growing productivity, population growth, increased aging, more
diversity, free trade agreements and more health concerned consumers.

The U.S. population is increasingly aware of the importance of diet. This
awareness is encouraged by governmental and medical reporting and by the
growing numbers of Hispanic immigrants who bring their eating habits with them.
Consequently, it is fair to assume that melon demand will expand in America.









The increasingly freer marketing between Latin America and U.S., spear headed
by NAFTA, will also increase demand. Regulations are reduced and U.S.
citizens already see reasonably priced Latin American fruits in their
supermarkets. Availability, quality and price are key demand elements in
increasing consumption, both in addition to consuming similar products and
substituting for them.

Demand for melons can be influenced at two separate levels; final customers
and intermediaries. However, the purchasing customer determines the final
amount to be sold in the market place. Most of the demand shifters can either
have a positive or negative effect on quantity demanded, although the magnitude
of the effect is determined on the degree of change exerted by the affecting
variables. For example, many variables can be affecting demand at the same
time, but no single variable has the same effect on demand as another variable.

SUPPLY OF MELONS

The following seven factors are probably the most influential:

1. Input Prices

Melon growers have been exposed to higher input costs due to adverse
exchange rates. As production costs change, the willingness of producers to
produce output at any given price changes. In particular, as the price of an input
rises, producers are willing to produce less output at each given price, thus
affecting the volumes shipped to the U.S. and Europe.

2. Technological Improvements

These can be divided into two parts. The first part concerns better production
practices through a better understanding of the learning curve regarding things
like water usage efficiency, effective fertilization levels, reduced waste and a
better management approach by the grower.

The second part, is dedicated to the productivity improvements gained by
biotechnological and genetic advances, including discoveries and innovations to
enable growers to achieve higher yields; crops with bacteria and fungi resistance
and the incorporation of special genetic features to better resist pesticide
application and reduce losses due to infestation.

Both parts factored in together have increased the overall output to the
marketplace. Furthermore, the market environment has made it possible to
produce a given output at a lower cost, such as:

v Phase-out of most tariffs and non-tariffs barriers in industrial products
V Phase-out of tariffs and most non-tariff barriers in agricultural products








/ Liberalization of financial, land, transportation and telecommunication
service markets
V Advanced mechanisms to endure prompt resolution of shipping situations
V Government funds for research and development, as well as funds for
environmental clean up.

3. Number of Producers

The number of growers in a region and the number of countries engaged in
melon exporting activities affect the volume of melons supplied. As additional
growers enter an industry, more and more output is available at each given price.

Similarly, as the market works out its "invisible hand" by cleaning up the
inefficient players in the market, growers leave the market and as a
consequence, fewer units are sold at each price and supply decreases.

4. New Customers' Tastes

The only constant factor is change itself and more consumers are switching their
tastes and preferences toward more tropical fruits such as kiwi, mangoes,
papaya, watermelons, and melons rather than sticking with the most commonly
known apples, pears and grapes in the U.S.. The interest in diverse tastes has
increased the willingness of growers to put out more fruit and grow new melon
varieties, hence increasing the already traditional variety volumes.

5. Taxes and Trade Regulations

Many economies in Latin America still charge export taxes to its growers in an
effort to collect more governmental revenues to cover government spending
(most of Central American government work under fiscal deficits), hence
increasing per box cost and growers to produce more output.

Both, higher taxes rates and complicated trade procedures reduce the growers'
willingness to increase output.

6. Growers' Expectation on Prices

On the exporting community there is a common phrase: "Cash price is king."
Growers' expectations about future price also affect their position regarding
output decisions. In effect, selling a unit of output today and selling a unit of
output tomorrow are substitutes in production.

If firms [growers] expect prices to be higher in the next exporting season, then
they will raise more crops, increase plant density per acre, expand fields and
finally increase overall output.









7. Government Subsidies


Local governments, through their agricultural departments, institute and promote
subsidies for growers that raise non-traditional crops, in order to increase overall
export volumes. Conversely, growers when faced with disposable economic
resources in the form of subsidies or reduced interest rates feel encouraged to
increase output with the expectation to derive substantial profits [Molina, M].

Final Remarks

Price determination is set by the intersection of demand and supply in the
market. But in order to have an idea of how demand and supply moves and
shifts, it is necessary to understand the factors affecting such variables. For
example, if importing countries make trade regulations more complex, then the
supply of melons is reduced due to the unwillingness of producers to deal with a
new regulatory environment. Seasonality plays an important role in determining
the price of a product, since growers faced with a constant demand will benefit
whenever the neighbor countries exporting season starts to decline in order for
them to increase output.

The single most important fact is the understanding that the price of perishable
products is determined by the willingness of consumers to purchase according to
their needs, wants and preferences and the willingness of producers to raise the
crop and export at the price consumers are willing to pay.

In summary there are five statements to consider.

1. The free market will just to leave the most efficient and financially strong
players.
2. Consumer willingness to consume more fruits and vegetables has increased
due to increased health awareness.
3. Demand and supply shifters play an important role in the price determination
process
4. Price is an ever-changing variable that plays a determining role of how much
is produced and consumed.
5. There are periods during the season under which the price per box is lower
than the breakeven price per box, although, growers still export melons to the
U.S. and Europe because they at least cover the cash costs of production.










Bibliography

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Conversation held on 12/15/2000.

Canovaca, M. Sales Representative. Bounty Fresh Inc. Miami, Florida. Personal conversation
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