Píngo Doce. The sweet fruits of collaboration.
Golmar Neto, Crop Sales Manager Melon & Watermelon South America, had one big vision when he joined BASF: to make Brazilians love Nunhems’ compact and seedless watermelon Pingo Doce – so rich in flavor you only had to try it once to fall for this variety.
He soon realized that it would take more than just the fruit to develop a brand people could love. He had to find the right partners to grow and sell it – and they needed to cooperate.
What sounds logical was actually a completely new thought. Because traditionally, Brazilian growers have no contact with distributors and prices can fluctuate enormously. So the idea was to offer selected growers, prepared to adopt more advanced practices and use Pingo Doce seeds, something in return: security of price and demand.
“We needed to produce high-quality, good-tasting watermelons all year round, so we focused on selecting growers we knew had an innovative mindset and understood the need to do things differently,” explains Golmar. “BASF Vegetable Seeds provided the technical support to help them move from relatively low-tech production methods to best practices in areas such as sustainable drip irrigation and traceability.”
As implementing these new practices, combined with more expensive seeds, increased their costs, Golmar and his team had to find retailers with a similar vision ready to offer a set price per kilo and guaranteed sales of the growers’ produce, safeguarding their return on investment.
Growing watermelon sales tenfold
He and his team got eighteen traders on board that were convinced of Pingo Doce’s unique features and entered into the cooperation. They did not regret it: Their stores have seen a huge rise in daily watermelon sales, from 45-65 kilograms up to as much as 500 kilograms!
Thus, the Pingo Doce project turned out to be a big win-win for sellers and growers – and or course for those who enjoy the high-quality, tasty and easy-to-handle watermelon. “Connecting all the dots along the value chain, from the seed over growers and retailers up to the people who want to enjoy healthy fruit, has proven a huge success story,” concludes Golmar. He expects Pingo Doce to hit the 5000-hectare milestone within the next three to four years.
And he wonders: Could this project be a model for other premium fruit and vegetables?