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Designer Cantaloupe: Walmart’s Sweet Secret Weapon?

As the retail wars heat up, Walmart experiments with designer fruit to create a competitive edge.


Given Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods and foreign discount grocers like Lidl and Aldi poised to enter the U.S. markets, retail giant Walmart is no doubt feeling a bit under siege. The company is pushing a number of initiatives to stave off the competition, but one of the more juicy efforts is a push to court fresh fruit enthusiasts with a delicious new designer melon.

Walmart’s new Sweet Spark cantaloupes, which have been in the works for two years, claim to be 40% sweeter than the current winter melons sold at Walmart, according to an article in the Washington Post. The company partnered with Bayer AG, the German agricultural giant, to develop the new cantaloupe, the article said, and the development team spent six months testing more than 20 seeds before they came up with what they say is a winning combination.

Apparently, creating designer fruits and vegetables is becoming a common strategy as competition in the grocery sector tightens and players look for ways to differentiate. Improving color, taste, yield, and disease resistance are common goals, the article explained, helping retailers create something unique and special, designed to generate loyalty among discerning buyers.

The Sweet Spark, now grown in Guatemala and Costa Rica, is currently sold in 200 U.S. Walmart stores, with plans for expansion later this year.

Picking the perfect cantaloupe isn’t easy. It looks like I might have to add another stop to my weekly grocery shopping repertoire.

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