Group Title: AE report
Title: The Export market potential for Florida icebox watermelons
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00094239/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Export market potential for Florida icebox watermelons
Physical Description: ii, 28 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lloyd, Billie S.
Gilbraith, K. M. ( Kenneth Marshburn ), 1923-
Godwin, Marshall Reid, 1922-
Donor: unknown ( endowment )
Publisher: Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 1962
Copyright Date: 1963
 Subjects
Subject: Watermelons -- Marketing -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Billie S. Lloyd, Kenneth M. Gilbraith, and Marshall R. Godwin.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00094239
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 320908806

Full Text
d .5( r1


K


Billie S. Lloyd, Kenneth M. Gilbraith
and Marshall R. Godwin



Department of Agricultural Econor
University of Florida, Gainesville
AE Report No. 63-5


THE EXPORT ^
MARKET POTENTIAL FOR
FLORIDA ICEBOX WATERMELONS











THE EXPORT MARKET POTENTIAL FOR FLORIDA ICEBOX WATERMELONS


by



Billie S. Lloyd, Kenneth M. Gilbraith,
and Marshall R. Godwin























AE Report No. 63-5
Department of Agricultural Economics
University of Florida
Gainesville
















CONTENTS


Page


Summary . . . . . . . . .

Introduction . . . . . . . .

Method of Procedure . . . . . .

Major Findings Which Evolved from the Study.

Condition of melons on arrival . . .

Harvesting and handling costs . . .

Revenue and prices received . . .

Feasibility of Export Marketing . . .

Appendix . . . . . . . . .

Acknowledgments . . . . . . .


. ...... .. .......


. . . . .


..... 1







Summary


The purpose of this study was to examine the export market

potential for Florida icebox type watermelons. The principal factors

considered were the physical difficulties involved in overseas ship-

ments, the costs of harvesting and handling, and the extent of con-

sumer acceptance of these melons in a foreign market.

During the spring of 1961 three test shipments of melons were

made to England at intervals of two weeks. Each shipment consisted

of melons of the New Hampshire Midget and the Sugar Baby varieties.

Shipments were made in both wirebound and nailed crates. To determine

the optimum maturity level for exporting, each variety was shipped at

three stages of maturity. Detailed records were kept for each shipment

on transit losses, handling costs, and prices and total revenue received

from the sale of the melons.

The results indicate that the Sugar Baby variety at the pink

to red stage of maturity is more satisfactory for export marketing

than any other variety-maturity combination tested. The two containers

are equally efficient in transporting both varieties of melons, but

the wirebound crate is considerably less expensive than the nailed

crate. Melons picked in the middle of the harvesting season withstand

the long shipping period better than those harvested either early

or late.

Per crate costs exceeded returns for both varieties of melons.

More efficient harvesting and packing operations and a decrease in

i






ocean transportation rates could perhaps effect reductions in cost

which would permit some profit from the export marketing of the

Sugar Baby variety. Consumers in the English market are apparently

willing to pay good prices for first quality melons of this variety.

Successful export marketing, however, would likely depend

upon solving two major problems which are inherent in such operations.

The first of these is concerned with the harvesting of melons at a

particular stage of maturity with accuracy. The second problem has

to do with the disposition of melons unsuitable for export because

of failure to meet the rigid requirements of uniformity with respect

to size and quality.

It appears that, under the present marketing conditions and

technology, the profits from exporting Florida icebox type watermelons

will not be sufficient to justify the extra effort and expense involved

in producing, harvesting, and shipping to a foreign market.






Introduction


Historically, Florida watermelon producers have depended almost

entirely upon domestic markets for their product. The practical limita-

tions of both handling difficulties and costs have prohibited the exploi-

tation of most foreign markets with the conventional varieties of melons.

Recently, however, there has been an increasing interest among Florida

growers concerning the potentialities for developing a foreign market for

icebox type watermelons. The development of an export market for such

melons would greatly enhance the economic position of producers and

marketing agencies for both the icebox types and the conventional varie-

ties of Florida watermelons.

In most of the foreign market areas practically accessible to

Florida, melons are available from local growing areas or nearby import

sources during much of the year. The most notable exceptions to this are

England and Western Europe during the early spring when melons are gener-

ally unavailable in these major consuming areas. Numerous small varieties

of melons are currently being produced in South Florida in the early

spring and can be produced in substantial quantities. Consequently, the

potentialities of these areas as a market for Florida melons deserve

examination.

The first effort to ship icebox type Florida watermelons into the

European market was made during the spring of 1960. Trial shipments were

made of both the New Hampshire Midget and the Sugar Baby varieties.

Neither of these shipments proved to be a commercial success. They did









indicate that, although there was a potential market for nmlons in England

particularly in the early spring, the commercial feasibility of moving

sizable quantities of melons into this market would depend on the develop-

ment of techniques to overcome the physical problems of delivery and to

reduce the high cost of transportation and packaging. Further investi-

gation was needed to establish more precisely the nature of the relation-

ship between costs and returns from such an undertaking and to identify

the major operational problems that such shipments would entail.

This report is based on research conducted cooperatively by the

Agricultural Experiment Stations and Extension Service of the University

of Florida in the spring of 1961 to explore more fully the export market

potential for Florida icebox watermelons. The specific objective was to

conduct experimental shipments of Florida icebox watermelons to England

to the end of establishing the economic feasibility of such shipments and

the degree of consumer acceptance for these melons.



Method of Procedure


The principal consideration in this study was the economic prac-

ticability of shipping Florida icebox type watermelons to England. This

resolves into questions of the physical difficulties involved in making

delivery, the costs of harvesting and handling, and the extent of consumer

acceptance in the English market. The major factors influencing each of

these are melon variety, container type and size, stage of maturity at

which melons are shipped, costs, prices, and total revenue. Of these,

only variety, container, and maturity stage are subject to control by the

Florida watermelon industry.








Selection of the two varieties to be used was based on the results

of the preliminary shipping test made in the spring of 1960 and on the

advice of production specialists. The New Hampshire Midget was chosen

because it was regarded by a wholesale receiver in England as particularly

well adapted to the trade of that country because of its small size.

Choice of the Sugar Baby was based on its internal characteristics and on

the recommendation of production specialists who felt that this variety

had a higher capability for long distance shipment and a more satisfactory

texture and flavor than the New Hampshire Midget.

The experimental shipments were made in two basic types of con-

talners--one of nailed and one of wirebound construction. The criteria

for determining the dimensions of the containers were the maximum volume

allowable under the minimum shipping rate to England, the size of the

melons, and a pack size that would be realistic from the standpoint of

handling and marketing through the distribution system.

Prior to this study, there were no fixed rates nor established

container sizes for shipping melons from the United States to England.

However, negotiations with the Trans-Atlantic Associated Freight Confer-

ence resulted in the issuance of rates effective December 1, 1960. While

these rates did not include container specifications, they did provide for

two basic container sizes. For containers of 3 cubic feet or less, the

rates established were $2.25 ordinary stowage and $3.00 refrigerated

stowage. For containers over 3 but less than 4 cubic feet, the rates were

$3.00 and $4.00, respectively, for the two methods of shipment. Ordinary

stowage was employed for all shipments in the experimental tests.

Since the container sizes were specified by the rates only in a

volume sense, exact dimensions were determined by the average size of each








variety of melon and the pack size desired. Although no specific infor-

mation was available on the average size of the two melons, it was the

consensus of production specialists that the New Hampshire Midgets would

average 5 inches in diameter and the Sugar Baby variety, 8 inches. The

pack sizes requested by the receiver were 6 to 12 melons per crate for

the larger variety and 10 to 16 for the smaller. Based on this informa-

tion, crates of the following dimensions were developed and employed in

the shipping tests.

Outside Dimensions Volume

New Hampshire Midget

Wirebound crate 24-1/4" x 18-1/4" x 7-1/2" 1.92 cu. ft.

Nailed crate 23-1/2" x 18-3/4" x 7-3/4" 1.98 cu. ft.

Sugar Baby

Wirebound crate 28" x 16-5/8" x 10-1/4" 2.76 cu. ft.

Nailed crate 27-3/8" x 16-3/4" x 10-1/2" 2.79 cu. ft.

The crates were designed to pack 6 melons to a container for the

Sugar Baby variety and 12, or with slight modifications 9 or 15, to a

container for the New Hampshire Midgets. Both the nailed and the wire-

bound crates were designed to hold an equal number of melons of a given

size. None exceeded the 3 cubic feet allowed under the minimum shipping

rate.

It was anticipated that melons for export must be harvested in a

less mature condition than is customary for the domestic market. Since

melons become more fragile as they approach full maturity, the determination


During the course of the study it was found that these measurements
were slightly overestimated and, consequently, the crate sizes could have
been somewhat smaller (see Table 8, p. 18).





5



of the optimum maturity level for shipments of the time and distance

involved was a major consideration. Consequently, three stages of

maturity were tested. These consisted of melons barely showing a pink

interior color break, slightly pink melons, and melons of pink to red color.

Three shipments at intervals of two weeks were made during the

study. Each shipment consisted of 60 crates of each variety. Spacing the

shipments at these intervals was planned to furnish information concerning

any discernible differences among melons picked early, late, or midway in

the harvesting season.

In summary, the study was designed to examine the effects of

variety, maturity, and container types. Schematically, the experimental

design used to produce the necessary data on each of these elements of

the problem is shown in Table 1.

The melons in each shipment were individually labeled in order to

duplicate as nearly as possible commercial practices and to provide pros-

pective buyers with information regarding their source of origin. Eye-

catching appeal and the sphere-like shape of the melons were the basic

criteria used to determine the colors, size, and shape of the label that

was employed (see Fig. 1).

Since the majority of the data on this project was to be collected

in England, special cooperative arrangements were made to assure that the

outcome of the tests would be properly recorded. The melons were consigned

to a wholesale receiver in London who handled them through his regular

facilities. Upon arrival, all of the melons were inspected for external

damage or deterioration and any damaged ones were discarded. The sound

melons in each shipment were offered to the usual clientele of the whole-

sale receiver.












TABLE 1.--Design for experimental shipments of Florida icebox watermelons to England, spring 1961

Variety of Melon

New Hampshire Midget Sugar Baby

Shipment Container Type
Number Wirebound Crate Nailed Crate Wirebound Crate Nailed Crate

Maturity Stage

B r Slightly Pink Slightly Pink Br r Slightly Pink akerSlightly Pink
Breaker Breaker PBreaker Breaker Pink to Red
Pink to Red Breaker Pink to Red Pink to Red Pink to Red

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates

10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates crates

























Fig. l.--Identificatlon label attached to
each melon in experimental shipments of Florida
Icebox watermelons sent to England, spring 1961.


Detailed records were kept by this firm on losses of melons in

transit, handling costs, and prices and total revenue received from the

commercial sale of the sound melons. The price that the melons commanded

In the market place was the primary means of determining the general

acceptability of the melons by consumers In England. In addition, these

records aided in determining the feasibility of such shipments from the

standpoint of Florida watermelon growers.

When each shipment arrived, a sample of approximately 10 melons

of each variety-container-maturity combination was cut and rated by a

qualified horticulturist as to flesh color and texture, seed maturity,

soluble solids content, and presence of undesirable qualities. The cri-

teria for adjudging a melon unsalable were (a) the presence of undesirable

yellow placenta tissue, (b) distinctive whorling of placenta tissue,

(c) white heart, (d) hollow heart, (e) watery or slimy flesh texture, or

(f) a soluble solids content rating less than 7.0. It was assumed that









all of the melons in a particular lot would be distributed in the same
2
proportion as the cut sample. The effects of variety, container, and

degree of maturity on the operational difficulties involved in making

deliveries of melons to the English market were based on the number of

salable melons in each lot.

In December 1960 and January 1961 plantings were made which were

expected to produce the necessary maturities of each variety of melons

in the spring. Early in April, however, it was found that the New

Hampshire Midget variety had matured more rapidly than the Sugar Baby.

As a result of this development the initial shipment of New Hampshire

Midgets was made on April 11 and the first shipment of the Sugar Baby

variety one week later on April 18. Subsequent shipments of both vari-

eties were made as scheduled at intervals of two weeks. Each shipment

required 12 days from growing area to point of debarkation. Shipping

and arrival dates for all shipments are summarized in Table 2.


TABLE 2.--Summary of shipping and arrival dates for experimental ship-
ments of icebox type watermelons to England, spring 1961


Shipment y Left Left Arrived
Number arietyGrowing Area New York In England

1 (New Hampshire Midget April 11 April 15 April 23
(Sugar Baby April 18 April 21 April 30

2 Both varieties April 25 April 28 May 7

3 Both varieties May 9 May 12 May 21


2To illustrate the procedure involved, suppose 144 slightly pink
melons of the New Hampshire Midget variety were shipped in the wirebound
container. Suppose, further, that 12 of these arrived with external
damage, leaving a total of 132 apparently sound melons. When the sample
of 10 melons was cut, 3 were judged unsalable by the established criteria.
To determine the number of unsalable melons in the lot, multiply 132 by
3/10 for a total of 40 unsalable and 92 salable melons.










Major Findings Which Evolved from the Study


Condition of melons on arrival

A substantial proportion of the melons shipped during the tests

arrived in England in a condition unfit for sale. The extent to which

this was true in the aggregate is evident from Table 3. For the total

of all shipments, the melons were almost evenly divided among those having

some type of external damage such as splitting, bruising, rotting, etc.;

those with undesirable internal characteristics; and those which were

salable. Of the two varieties tested, however, the Sugar Baby with more

than one-half considered salable was much more satisfactory than the

New Hampshire Midget with only slightly more than one-fourth salable.

Almost 40 percent of the Midgets suffered external damage of one type or

another as compared to less than 1.5 percent of the Sugar Baby variety.


TABLE 3.--Condition of melons by variety in experimental shipments of
Florida icebox type watermelons sent to England, spring 1961


Condition of Melons New Hampshire Midgets Sugar Baby Total

Number externally damaged 894 15 909
Number internally unsound 743 471 1214
Number of salable melons 614 594 1208
Total number shipped 2251 1080 3331



There was no apparent difference between the results obtained

from the two types of containers used either in the aggregate or by

3See Table 1 in the Appendix for a complete distribution by lots
and shipments of the number of melons shipped, the number externally
damaged, the percentage of salable melons in the cut sample, and the
number of salable melons in each group based on this percentage.









variety (see Table 4). Thirty-eight percent of the melons shipped in

the wirebound container and 35 percent of those in the nailed crate were

considered salable. A choice between the two types of containers

apparently could be made on the basis of cost and availability. Although

the question of availability was beyond the scope of this study, probably

both types would be equally available if there were a demand for them.

With respect to cost, however, the two containers differed considerably.


TABLE 4.--Condition
mental shipments of


of melons by variety and container type in experi-
Florida icebox type watermelons sent to England,
spring 1961


New Hampshire Sugar Baby Total
Midget
Condition of Melons
Wirebound Nailed Wirebound Nailed Wirebound Nailed
Crate Crate Crate Crate Crate Crate

Number externally 423 471 4 11 427 482
damaged

Number internal 353 390 250 221 603 611
unsound

Number of salable
mer of salable 334 280 286 308 620 588
melons

Total number 1110 1141 540 540 1650 1681
shipped



The wirebound crates which were already assembled when purchased

cost 55 cents each for the New Hampshire Midget size and 60 cents for

the Sugar Baby. In comparison the unassembled nailed crates cost

96 cents each for either size. To assemble them an additional 21 cents

for labor and 6 cents for materials were required, making a total cost

of $1.23 per crate. The unit cost for each of these types of containers









probably would decrease somewhat in large lots, but the price differ-

ential apparently would still favor the wirebound crate.

The results of the study indicate a slightly significant differ-

ence among the three stages of maturity with regard to salability. Only

25 percent of all the breakers shipped were considered salable as com-

pared to 37 percent of the slightly pink and 48 percent of the pink to

red melons (see Table 5). Most of the unsalable breakers and slightly

pink melons were discarded because they failed to meet the minimum sol-

uble solids requirements, even though they had the other characteristics

of a good, ripe watermelon. It would appear that, for both varieties of

melons, the optimum maturity for shipping would be the pink to red stage.

Melons of this maturity level would apparently have the most desirable

taste characteristics and, in general, losses due to external damage

would be no greater than for the other maturity stages.

Consideration of the percentage of salable melons in each matu-

rity stage by varieties serves to substantiate this conclusion. The

proportion of salable Midgets in each maturity category was comparatively

small, ranging from 20 percent for the breakers to 34 percent for the

pink to red stage. The Sugar Baby variety, on the other hand, ranged

from 38 percent for the lowest maturity stage to 74 percent for the

highest, which is further evidence that the pink to red maturity stage

of the Sugar Baby variety is the best maturity-variety combination for

shipment.

There were substantial differences among the three shipments

with regard to both the percentage of salable melons and the type of

damage suffered (see Table 6). These differences are particularly mean-

ingful in terms of the two varieties tested.
















TABLE 5.--Condition of melons by variety and stage of maturity in experimental shipments of Florida icebox
type watermelons sent to England, spring 1961


New Hampshire Midget Sugar Baby Total
Condition
of Melons Breaker Slightly Pink ker Slightly Pink Slightly Pink
Pink to Red Pink to Red Breaker Pink to Red

Number externally damaged 315 283 296 2 3 10 317 286 306

Number internally unsound 341 242 160 223 165 83 564 407 243

Number of salable melons 166 210 238 135 192 267 301 402 505

Total number shipped 822 735 694 360 360 360 1182 1095 1054









TABLE 6.--Condition of melons by variety and shipment in experimental
shipments of Florida icebox type watermelons sent to England, spring 1961


Condition of Melons New Hampshire Midget Sugar Baby Total

Shipment I
Number externally damaged 61 2 63
Number internally unsound 472 204 676
Number of salable melons 251 154 405

Total number shipped 784 360 1144

Shipment II
Number externally damaged 68 7 75
Number internally unsound 271 49 320
Number of salable melons 363 304 667
Total number shipped 702 360 1062

Shipment III
Number externally damaged 765 6 771
Number internally unsound 0 218 218
Number of salable melons 0 136 136
Total number shipped 765 360 1125



For the New Hampshire Midgets, less than 10 percent of the

melons in the first two shipments suffered any type of external damage.

On the other hand, for these two shipments the proportion of internally

unsound melons was quite high--60 percent in the first and 38 percent in

the second. In the third shipment, all of the Midgets arrived in an

unsalable condition due to external damage. In fact, this shipment

accounted for some 34 percent of the externally damaged Midgets and

emphasized the fact that this variety does not hold up well for long

periods of storage.

For the Sugar Baby variety, the percentage of externally damaged

melons was negligible in all three shipments. However, both the first









and third shipments suffered heavy losses because about 60 percent of

the melons were internally unsound.

Only in the second shipment for both varieties did the number of

salable melons exceed the number of unsalable ones. For the Midgets,

the proportion was about half and half but, for the Sugar Baby variety,

the ratio of salable to unsalable melons was more than 5 to 1. Appar-

ently, melons picked in the middle of the harvesting season withstood

the long shipping period better than those picked in either the early or

the late part of the season.


Harvesting and handling costs

Information concerning variety, container type, and stage of

maturity for shipment fulfills only part of the needs of growers con-

templating the production of melons for export. Of even greater impor-

tance is information concerning the harvesting and handling costs such a

venture might entail. In the early stages of the development of an

export market, shipping as well as harvesting and local handling costs

would be the responsibility of the grower. Growers would not be able to

depend upon marketing agencies to assume these expenses in the same

fashion that characterizes the present domestic market.

A summary of average per crate costs for harvesting, shipping,

and marketing each variety of melon is given in Table 7. In the aggre-

gate, receiving and handling charges amounted to less than 20 percent,

with the remainder of the costs being about evenly divided between

harvesting and shipping expenses. The largest individual cost items

were labor, crates, and interstate and ocean shipping which together

accounted for about three-fourths of the total cost for each variety and









TABLE 7.--Harvesting and handling costs by variety for experimental
shipments of Florida icebox type watermelons to England, spring 1961;


Costs New Hampshire Sugar Baby
Midget
- - cost per crate - -

Harvesting and packing costs
Labor $1.56 $1.33
Crates
Nailed $.96)
Assembly of crates .21) 1.23 1.23
Nails .06)
Wirebound .55 .60
Dividers (per set) .04 .03
Freight .08 .08
Woodwool packing .24 .24
Labels .22 .11
Gas for hauling melons in field .03 .03

Shipping charges
Interstate .90 .95
Ocean 2.26 2.26

Receiving and handling charges
Customs and clearance .03 .04
Handling .03 .04
Landing charges .13 .13
Insurance .02 .02
Cartage .10 .10
Import duty (8.18% of revenue) .29 .57
Commission (5% of revenue) .18 .35
Total cost per nailed crate $7.34 $7.51


Total cost per wirebound crate


$6.66


$6.88









crate type. All of the costs incurred in making the shipments represent

fixed charges per crate of melons with the exception of the charges for

import duty, commission, and labor.

Special mention should be made of the unique nature of the costs

for import duty and commission. These are based on a percentage of

revenue and will vary directly with the price which melons bring in

the English market. At the time of the study, import duty was

8.18 percent of revenue and commission was 5 percent. Because of the

damage and losses in the shipments, these charges appear quite small.

However, based on the highest prices received per crate, charges for

import duty were 29 cents and 57 cents for the New Hampshire Midgets and

the Sugar Baby variety, respectively. Corresponding commission charges

were 18 and 35 cents per crate.

With each successive shipment, average labor costs for both

varieties declined at the rather impressive rate of 24 percent. There

is a possibility that the average labor costs encountered in this study

could be reduced materially by the development of larger scale and more

efficient operations. Of necessity, there is some minimum labor cost

beyond which it would be difficult to decrease, and it seems reasonable

to expect that this minimum may be somewhat above the labor costs

involved in present day harvesting and packing operations for the

domestic market.

Additional opportunities for cost reduction may exist among some

of the other charges. Such reductions would be of particular importance

with regard to the larger cost items such as ocean transportation and

crates and packing material.









There are several alternative courses of action which could be

followed in achieving a reduction in the cost of ocean transportation.

First, a reduction in the present rates offers some possibility since

these rates may be in excess of those required to cover the cost plus

normal profits of the ocean carrier, especially if substantial tonnage

is involved. It is doubtful, however, that a reduction of sufficient

magnitude to materially affect over-all costs would be accomplished in

this manner. Second, a crate and pack could be designed to take full

advantage of the volume specifications of the existing rates. However,

this might involve the problem of odd pack sizes which would create

difficulties for both producers and distributors. Third, a change in

the crate specifications to conform more closely with optimum pack sizes

and a proportionate reduction in the existing rates would represent a

substantial savings on ocean transportation costs even though the basic

rate remained at the existing level.

Lack of accurate information on the average size of the two

varieties of melons tested resulted in the choice of crate sizes larger

than necessary. This, in turn, required the use of extra packing

material. Although smaller crate sizes and less packing material would

reduce costs somewhat, a comparison of the cost of the two crate sizes

used in the tests indicates that the reduction would be rather small.

To aid in making any future decisions involving size of the two

varieties, the length from stem to blossom end and the width (cross-

sectional diameter) of all melons in the first shipment were measured.

These results are shown in Table 8.

A frequency distribution of the measurements of individual
melons by variety is shown in Tables 2 and 3 of the Appendix.









TABLE 8.--Average length from stem to blossom end and average width
(cross-sectional diameter) of Florida icebox type watermelons by variety
and stage of maturity


Average Length Average Width
Variety and Stem to Blossom End (Cross-sectional Diameter)
Stage of Maturity (inches) (inches)


New Hampshire Midget
Breaker 4.6 4.1
Slightly pink 5.0 4.4
Pink to red 5.1 4.6

Sugar Baby
Breaker 6.9 6.7
Slightly pink 7.1 6.9
Pink to red 7.3 7.1



The New Hampshire Midgets had a more oblong shape than the Sugar

Baby variety, but were considerably smaller in size. Both varieties

increased slightly in over-all size from one stage of maturity to the

next.

In addition to the reductions in cost resulting from the choice

of smaller crate sizes, some of the packing costs such as crates,

dividers, woodwool packing, and labels would decrease slightly with an

increase in the number of crates shipped. The data do not indicate,

however, that any substantial savings could be accomplished through

efficiency or scale in the procurement or use of these items.

In summary, the most effective ways to effect cost reductions

would be through (a) the choice of the wirebound container over the more

expensive nailed crate, since there appears to be no measurable differ-

ence between the two in terms of their capacity to protect the melons

during transit; (b) the more efficient utilization of labor in harvesting









and packing operations; and (c) securing favorable rates and optimum

container sizes for ocean transportation.


Revenue and prices received

From a profit standpoint the test shipments of melons were unsuc-

cessful. Because of high costs, transit losses, and comparatively low

prices obtained from the sales of sound melons to the English trade, a

substantial loss was incurred. The net loss for the New Hampshire

Midgets was almost twice as large as the net loss for the Sugar Baby

variety. Part of this difference stemmed from the fact that one entire

shipment of Midgets was a total loss. However, there was also a con-

siderable variation in the prices received for the two varieties.

For the New Hampshire Midgets prices per crate ranged from a low

of 28 cents up to $3.50. Over half of the crates of Midgets sold at a

price of less than $1.00 each and only 5 were able to command the

highest price of $3.50 per crate. The average price for this variety

was $1.41 per crate. Prices obtained for the Sugar Baby variety were

comparatively higher, ranging from $5.04 to $7.00, with an average price

of $5.46 per crate. About three-fourths of these melons were sold at

prices varying not more than 50 cents from the average price. It 1.

significant to note that prices were from 85 cents to $1.50 above the

average for the remainder. This means that considerably higher than

average prices were received for the better quality melons when they

were available.

On a per melon basis, the highest price received for a New

Hampshire Midget was 29 cents as compared to $1.17 for a Sugar Baby.

Consumers in the English market are apparently willing to pay a premium

price for the Sugar Baby melons in relation to the Midgets.









Feasibility of Export Marketing

To an individual grower, the feasibility of shipping melons to

England would depend to a great extent on the net revenue which he would

realize from these shipments. His main interest, therefore, would be

the difference between costs and returns which he might reasonably

expect.

From this study, it appears that harvesting and handling costs

per wirebound crate for the two varieties are about the same. But, when

theprices received per crate are considered, the story is quite

different.

For the New Hampshire Midgets the total cost per wirebound crate

was approximately $6.66, as compared to the maximum price received of

only $3.50. Since there appear to be no efficiencies in harvesting and

handling which would reduce costs by an amount approaching this deficit,

one can conclude readily enough that it would be highly unprofitable to

ship the Midget variety to England even under the best of conditions.

The conclusion is not nearly so clear-cut with the Sugar Baby

variety. The total cost per wirebound crate for these melons was $6.88.

This is not substantially above the minimum price received of $5.04, and

almost a fourth of these melons sold at prices above $6.30. At these

prices, it appears that a small reduction in costs might enable a grower

to realize some profit from shipments into the English market.

In addition to the revenue aspects of the matter, however, there

are several other problems which will have a significant bearing on the

successful marketing of icebox type melons abroad.

One major problem consists of the ability of pickers to harvest

melons at the desired levels of maturity. Previously, growers had been









concerned with harvesting mature melons only, and pickers had been

trained for this specific purpose. Some difficulty was encountered when

pickers were required to harvest at other maturity stages.

To determine the ability of the pickers to harvest a specific

maturity level a sample was selected and cut as the melons were

harvested for each shipment. The results indicate that the percentage

of acceptable melons in each maturity category ranged from 23 percent to

68 percent, with an average picking accuracy of 49.7 percent. This

means that, on the average, only about half the melons in a shipment

were of the desired maturity. It is interesting to note that for the

pink to red stage of maturity the average percentage of melons of

acceptable maturity and the percentage of salable melons differed by

only 1 percent. That is, in the pink to red category, 49 percent of

the melons were actually at this stage of maturity. In the same cate-

gory, 48 percent of the melons were considered salable. A reasonable

assumption seems to be that a higher degree of picking accuracy would be

not only advantageous but quite essential. No doubt, the accuracy of

the pickers would improve over a period of time, but there is a definite

need for the development of some reasonable criteria for determining

rather precisely the maturity level of the melons.

The study indicated that melons picked in the middle of the

harvesting season were more suitable for export than those picked early

or late in the season. It is simple enough to ;ay that only melons from

a particular part of a growing season would be shipped to an export

market but, in reality, this might not be so easy. In the first place,

to provide melons for any length of time would require a series of









staggered plantings in order to have 'middle of the growing season'

melons available continuously. This in itself would.involve problems of

space, time, and facilities which would have to be solved by each indi-

vidual grower. Further, there would be the problem of disposing of

melons from the beginning and the end of the harvesting season if only

those from the middle of the season could be exported. Unless arrange-

ments could be made to dispose of them on the domestic market, this

would be a major problem in a large-scale export operation.

The wholesale preference in the English market is for a highly

uniform size of melon. On the other hand, all of the melons in a field

must be harvested as soon as they reach the desired maturity level both

as an aid to the pickers and to allow the plants to mature and produce

properly. Not only melons of acceptable size, but also any odd-size

ones, must be harvested at a single picking. Unless the foreign trade

can be induced to handle an assortment of sizes and to conduct their

marketing operations on a weight rather than a count basis, some provi-

sion would have to be made to dispose of odd sizes on the domestic

market.

To a considerable degree, the problems relating to the disposal

of melons failing to meet the maturity and size requirements of an

export operation would be obviated if the Florida watermelon industry

were organized to market melons on an industry-wide basis. Under these

conditions the residual of melons which is apparently inherent in export

activities could be readily meshed into the total marketing operations

of the industry and rather easily disposed of on the domestic market.









APPENDIX

TABLE 1.--Distribution of experimental shipments of Florida icebox type
watermelons sent to England showing number shipped, number externally
damaged, and number salable based on cut sample by shipments, variety,
container type, and maturity stage

New Hampshire Midget
Distribution Wirebound Crate Nailed Crate
of Shipment
Breaker Slightly Pink Breaker Slightly Pink
Pink to Red Pink to Red

Shipment I
Total number
shipped 144 126 120 144 132 118
Number exter-
nally damaged 0 9 12 0 12 28
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample 40% 10% 60% 10% 40% 60%
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage 58 12 65 14 48 54

Shipment II
Total number
shipped 123 114 108 129 117 111
Number exter-
nally damaged 0 16 11 33 0 8
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample 50% 60% 80% 33% 78% 40%
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage 62 59 78 32 91 41

Shipment III
Total number
shipped 138 123 114 144 123 123
Number exter-
nally damaged 138 123 114 144 123 123
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample 0 0 0 0 0 0
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage 0 0 0 0 0 0









TABLE 1.--Continued

Sugar Baby
Distribution Wirebound Crate Nailed Crate
of Shipment
BreakerSlightly Pink Breaker Slightly Pink
Pink to Red Pink to Red


Shipment I
Total number
shipped
Number exter-
nally damaged
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage
Shipment II
Total number
shipped
Number exter-
nally damaged
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage

Shipment III
Total number
shipped
Number exter-
nally damaged
Percentage of
salable melons
in cut sample
Number of sal-
able melons
based on per-
centage


60

0


60%



36


60

2


70%



41


60

0


30%


60

0


80%



48


60

0


20%


60 60


1


60%


0


20%


35 12


60 60

0 0


100% 67%



60 40


60 60


5


50%


0


30%


18 12 30 18


50%



30


60%



35


100%



60


100%



55


90%


6 52









TABLE 2.--Percentage distribution of measurements of individual New
Hampshire Midget melons for experimental shipments of Florida icebox
type watermelons sent to England, spring-1961


Measurement End-to-End Diameter Cross-Sectional Diameter
Measurement
(inches) Breaker Slightly Pink Slightly Pink
Breaker Pink to Red Breaker Pink to Red
Pink to Red Pink to Red


3
3-1/4
3-3/8
3-1/2
3-5/8
3-3/4
3-7/8

4
4-1/8
4-1/4
4-3/8
4-1/2
4-5/8
4-3/4
4-7/8

5
5-1/8
5-1/4
5-3/8
5-1/2
5-5/8
5-3/4
5-7/8

6
6-1/8
6-1/4
6-3/8
6-1/2
6-5/8
6-7/8


- - - - - - Percent -
0.4


0.6

2.1
2.8
4.2

5.6
3.5
11.8
11.2
6.9
8.3
11.8
11.2

6.9
2.8
2.1
1.4
5.6

0.6



0.6


0.4


0.4
0.4

0.8
3.9
7.8
3.1
10.5
4.3
9.3
2.7

15.0
12.0
5.4
3.1
8.5
2.7
2.3
2.7

2.3
1.2
0.4

0.4


0.4

3.8
2.5
3.0
1.3
9.3
1.7
12.7
3.8

10.1
4.6
11 .4
2.5
9.7
3.4
5.5
3.0

5.5
2.5
1.3
0.4
0.8
0.4
0.4


2.8
2.8
10.4
9.0

19.5
9.7
17.5
8.3
13.9
2.1
2.8


0.6


0.8


0.8
0.4
1.9
3.1

10.1
11.2
14.7
10.1
23.5
6.2
7.0
2.3

2.7
1.6
1.6
0.8
1.2


0.4
1.3
1.3

4.6
7.2
10.5
8.4
17.8
9.3
8.4
10.2

10.5
3.8
3.8

2.1

0.4


0.6


100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0


100.0 100.0


100.0


100.0 100.0 100.0









TABLE 3.--Percentage distribution of measurements of individual Sugar


Baby melons


for experimental shipments of Florida icebox type water-
melons sent to England, spring 1961


Measurement End-to-End Diameter Cross-Sectional Diameter
Measurement Sihl P
(inches) Breaker Slightly Pink Breaker Slightly Pink
Pink to Red Pink to Red

- - - - - - Percent - - - - - -


5-1/2
5-5/8
5-3/4
5-7/8

6
6-1/8
6-1/4
6-3/8
6-1/2
6-5/8
6-3/4
6-7/8

7
7-1/8
7-1/4
7-3/8
7-1/2
7-5/8
7-3/4
7-7/8

8
8-1/8
8-1/4
8-3/8
8-1/2
8-3/4

9-1/8


0.8

4.2


7.5
0.8
10.8

12.5

13.3


17.6
0.8
12.5
0.8
5.8
2.5
1.7


4.2

0.8

1.7
1.7


0.8



4.2

5.0

13.3
3.3
9.2
1.7

19.1

15.0

11.7
0.8
7.5


5.0

1.7

1.7


0.8


1.7


0.8
2.5
2.5
0.8
5.0
0.8
5.8
2.5

18.4
5.8
12.6
3.3
10.0
0.8
2.5
4.2

9.2
2.5
4.2


10.0
1.7
12.5
0.8
13.3
1.7
18.4
1.7

15.0

5.8

5.0

5.0


0.8


3.3
1.7
7.5
1.7
13.4
3.3
18.3
6.7

18.3
1.7
5.8
1.7
8.3

6.7
0.8


1.7

4.2
0.8
5.8
3.3
10.0
6.7

15.0
7.5
7.5
5.8
13.3
1.7
5.0


6.7


1.7
0.8
0.8


0.8


100.0


100.0 100.0 100.0


100.0 100.0









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


An essential requirement for the successful execution of a study

of this type is the advice, assistance, and cooperation of a large number

of people. Although it is not possible to mention all who were helpful,

the authors are especially grateful to the following individuals whose

contributions were of singular importance to the success of the study:

Donald W. Lander, County Agent, Collier County, Florida, gave

much valuable assistance in connection with the field work.

C. L. Washington and A. P. Burnette, Immokalee, Florida, produced

the essential supplies of melons and assisted in the har-

vesting and shipping operations.

M. E. Marvel and V. F. Nettles, Vegetable Crops Department,

University of Florida, served as consultants in selecting

the varieties of melons to be shipped, in establishing

maturity designations, and in developing the criteria for

salability ratings.

Allied Container Corporation, Tampa, Florida, designed and gratu-

itously provided the cardboard dividers used in the crates.

J. Nash Wortham, Horticulturist, British Agricultural Research

Council, London, England, made the necessary biological

determinations of the quality of the melons upon arrival

in England.

S. Cabell Shull, Assistant Agricultural Attache, U. S. Embassy,

London, England, made a vital contribution through his

general supervision of operations after the melons arrived

in the English market.





28



Receiving, handling, and accounting for the melons were the

responsibility of the firm, J. 0. Sims, Ltd., London,

England. The authors are especially indebted to

Keith 0. Sims, Director, for his personal contribution to

this effort.




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