According to David DeBerry of watermelon and onion specialists Crescent Fruit and Vegetable LLC in Edinburg, TX, three things matter when striving to deliver a premium product: quality, supply and consistency in both.
Crescent partners with top-notch growers in diverse locations to ensure supply of premium watermelons and onions under its “Moonlit Farms” label. Situated in what the company calls the “watermelon and onion belt” of North America, Moonlit Farms are located throughout Texas and Mexico.
“When you’re talking about a premium product, there are variables — nothing comes out of the ground the same way every time. But we can control quality and consistency of supply and if you do those things, people will pay for that and they’ll keep coming back,” Mr. DeBerry said.
“Moonlit Farms” watermelons are harvested by hand and carefully placed in field trucks for transport cooling and packing sheds. From harvest to store shelf takes just one-to-five days depending on where the product is going.
“Moonlit” watermelons use HarvestMark Technology for full traceability, with a PLU sticker that provides information down to harvest date and which area in a specific field produced the fruit.
Seeded and seedless watermelon is available for custom pack. Seeded watermelon also comes in 28-, 35- and 45-count bins; three-, four- and five-count cartons; and one-, two- and three-count institutional packs. Seedless is available in 28-, 36-, 45- and 60-count bins (as well as binned mini watermelons); three-, four-, five- and six-count cartons; and two-, three- and four-count institutional packs.
“Moonlit Farms Premium Onions” are available in red, white and sweet varieties. After a three-to-seven day post-harvest field cure, onions get another 24-72 hours in the cure house and are on store shelves within 10-14 days of harvest. After a three-to-seven day post-harvest field cure, onions get another 24-72 hours in the cure house and are on store shelves in 10-14 days. “Moonlit” onions are available in custom packs and pack-to-order bins, as well as two-, three-, four-, five-, 10-, 25- and 50-pound sacks; 10-, 25-, 40- and 50-pound cartons; and 20- and 40-pound RPCs.
Given the vagaries of weather in the region and ongoing drought in Texas, Crescent City’s variety of growing areas ensures consistent supply and quality. Different elevations in growing areas give the company even more leeway and make it conceivable to move deals around to guarantee supply.
Crescent City plans far in advance for any adverse conditions, especially drought in parched Texas, where water rights are precious and competitive.
“We have our water [supply] locked up for 2014, but who wants to be just one year away from having to think about what you’re going to do otherwise?” Mr. DeBerry asked. “In Mexico, if push came to shove, we could produce onions in that district all the way from the start of the season to when the Texas Winter Garden [region] starts and maybe even longer. We could probably make that change on a week’s notice if it turned out that 2015 didn’t look good.”