Dolce Passione, the fully Italian, black rind seedless watermelon was presented at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. The consortium has expanded with the entry of the Cico-Mazzoni Group

Liuciano Trentini, Roberto Castello, Matteo Mazzoni, Carmine Alfano, Stefano Rossi

Berlin (8 February 2024) – Following its debut in 2023, the Dolce Passione Consortium has presented the “Dolce Passione” watermelon to international buyers at Fruit Logistica in Berlin. The President of the Consortium, Roberto Castello (Ortofrutta Castello), together with Carmine Alfano (Alma Seges), Stefano Rossi (Lorenzini Naturamica), Matteo Mazzoni (Gruppo Cico-Mazzoni) and coordinated by Luciano Trentini, the consortium’s director, presented the watermelon this afternoon (8 February) in the Italy Events Hall.

This project is proving popular with consumers and has received excellent feedback from retailers. All research was developed in Italy and was the result of collaboration between four companies in the sector: Lamboseeds, an Italian seed company (Sant’Agata Bolognese, Bologna) specialized in advanced research and innovation of new varieties of quality horticultural species worked alongside companies from the world of production and trade, namely, Alma Seges (Eboli, Salerno), Ortofrutta Castello (Stanghella, Padua) and Lorenzini Naturamica (Sermide, Mantua). They united to establish the Dolce Passione Consortium in 2023. This year, in 2024, they were joined by a new important player in the Italian fruit and vegetable sector, the Cico-Mazzoni Group.

“We welcome the arrival of Cico-Mazzoni with great enthusiasm as evidence of the project’s growth – explained Roberto Castello, the President of the Dolce Passione Consortium – the Consortium’s expansion will enable us to better manage the greater volumes that will be produced and marketed in the 2024 marketing campaign, not only on the domestic market but also abroad in Europe, in particular Germany and France”.

“As a Group, we are happy to be able to contribute to the growth of this ambitious project – stated Matteo Mazzoni, Commercial Director of the Cico-Mazzoni Group – On the one hand, we were convinced by the presence of important and specialized players in the fruit and vegetable sector that, now more than ever, gains from collective efforts. On the other hand, we appreciated the opportunity to manage an exclusive variety of the highest organoleptic quality. We are therefore ready to widen our range with the Premium Dolce Passione watermelon”.

Giotto cultivar

The peculiarity of “Dolce Passione” watermelons is the new-generation genetics represented by the Giotto variety, one of the most important innovations in this species to be recently selected in Italy. It has a thin, fine rind that is bright and uniform black and compact and crispy red flesh with a characteristic sugary flavour.

It is rich in fibre thanks also to the absence of seeds and has a consistently high Brix level. As a very fertile variety, it forms part of the “midi” watermelon segment, with an average weight of around 4-5 kg. It is, therefore, a very manageable watermelon and easy for consumers to transport.

Cultivation areas: from 60 to 320 hectares

Dolce Passione made its debut on the market in 2022, its first year of large-scale agronomic and commercial testing, when it was cultivated over an area of approximately 60 hectares, yielding a marketable production of approximately 3,000 tonnes. In 2023, the planted areas in Italy practically tripled, reaching approximately 180 hectares for a marketed production of approximately 9,000 tonnes.

The operators belonging to the Dolce Passione Consortium foresee a programme for the 2024 marketing campaign that will lead to a further increase in planted areas which are expected to reach/exceed 320 hectares for approximately 18/20,000 tonnes of watermelons to be placed on the domestic and international market. Naturally, all summer products are subject to the risk of climate change, and this could have a significant impact on production and consumption.

To obtain these results while also extending the watermelon’s marketing period, growers will use not only greenhouses but also open field cultivation with the protection of polytunnels when necessary.

Production throughout Italy

Production areas are chosen among the best for the cultivation of this product. The earliest production will be in Sicily, followed by Puglia, Campania, Lazio, Umbria, Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna Veneto and Lombardy. The main sales channels are domestic and foreign big retail chains which are the main buyers for the growers participating in the consortium.

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