Well over half of all the 102 million tonnes (2011) of watermelon and 31 million tonnes of Cantaloupe types produced annually around the world are grown in Asia. China is the largest producer growing over two thirds of the world’s watermelons and 55% of all Cantaloupes.
Other major producers include Turkey, USA and Iran. Egypt and Mexico are also key producers of watermelon and Spain and Romania have significant areas of Cantaloupes. In total, both types of melon are grown across almost 4.8 million ha in nearly 100 countries.
World watermelon yields average 26t/ha and Cantaloupes, 21t/ha. However, there is large variation worldwide with average yields of watermelon in Spain, for example, being amongst the highest at 46t/ha. Most Asian production is consumed internally. The biggest exporter of both types of melon is Spain, followed by Mexico.
The largest importers are the USA, Canada and Europe, with Cantaloupes being more favored by consumers in these markets. Melon consumption continues to grow annually. In the USA, for example, it has doubled over the last 20 years and now equates to over 15kg of melon per person per year.
There are two main types of melon within the curcubit family, but hundreds of different variants with a wide range of colours, shapes, sizes and tastes.