‘’Dolce Passione’, the fully Italian black rind watermelon is popular both on the market and in the kitchen

Lido degli Estensi (14 July 2022) – If watermelon is the quintessential summer product, then this year’s hot weather is ideally suited to the consumption of ‘Dolce Passione’. This black rind watermelon is the only exclusively ‘made in Italy’ product and it has brought this variety back to the market after 30 years.

The marketing campaign was launched at the most recent edition of Macfrut. While the latest data indicate a lower production than expected due to very high temperatures combined with drought, there has been a good response from the market, of which over 90% involves the large-scale retail trade.

Dolce Passione was developed through Italian genetics as part of a project created thanks to a collaboration involving Lamboseeds (Sant’Agata Bolognese), a company engaged in experimentation and advanced research, working alongside companies from the world of production and trade, namely, Alma Seges (Eboli, Salerno), Ortofrutta Castello (Stanghella, Padua). In recent months, this first group was joined by Lorenzini Naturamica (Sermide – Mantua) who found the project to be convincing.

The expected yield of this year’s harvest of the Dolce Passione crops, which will be marketed mainly through large-scale retailers and on general markets, is expected to exceed 6,000 tonnes, obtained from a total area of 100 hectares that have been selected as the most suitable areas for growing watermelon in Italy.

‘Dolce Passione’ has bright red, crunchy flesh and a characteristically sweet flavour (Brix level no lower than 12, undoubtedly higher than the traditional fruit). It is rich in fibre thanks also to the absence of seeds and weighs between 3 and 5 kg. It also has little waste (rind) and a large quantity of edible flesh.

This product is suited to use in various dishes as confirmed by the menu chef Mauro Spadoni prepared at Bagno Prey in Lido degli Estensi. The venue for this presentation was no coincidence as the Ferrara area is particularly suited to the cultivation of this product. Spadoni fully expressed the potential of the black rind watermelon by creating a culinary journey that went from the appetizer to the dessert.

The dishes he created were as follows:
Appetizer: Shrimp sauté with Tropea onions, balsamic vinegar and watermelon morsels;

First course: Gorgonzola and watermelon risotto;

Second course: Warm chicken and watermelon salad;

Dessert: Watermelon and yogurt mousse.


The watermelon market in Italy

The 2022 watermelon harvest is characterized by high temperatures. This climate, accompanied by widespread drought, has led to an increase in production costs due to the increased irrigation required. Moreover, the quality of the watermelon has been affected by these high temperatures, especially where sufficient water for irrigation is not available.
This year’s climate has resulted in early harvests and a marketing campaign that could end early, leaving space for production from abroad.
Overall, 2022 should be considered a good year for marketing watermelon with high prices, though prices are closely linked quality of the fruit. Currently, there is a wide range on offer. There are many different types of watermelon present in general markets and supermarkets and the quality is often influenced by different factors such as the variety, the growing area, the cultivation technique adopted, the climate, etc. It is important that consumers are not disappointed with their purchase, therefore, the product must be good: ‘Dolce Passione’ is living up to these expectations.
According to the latest available estimates, Italy’s production in 2022 indicates a growing area of approximately 12/13,000 hectares capable of producing around 500,000 tonnes of marketed watermelons. Production is reduced compared to previous years due to the hailstorms that hit some areas, especially in northern Italy. Added to this, there has been an increase in the production of mini and midi watermelons that reduces unit production. Nationally, the most important growing areas are Lazio, Puglia, Sicily, Lombardy, Campania, and Emilia-Romagna.

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