The Latin origin of the word Solara translates to “of the sun”—a fitting name for the newest greenhouse-grown offering from Pure Flavor®.
The Solara™ Mini Melon is a category game-changer in its own right. Launched this past summer, these vibrant green beauties truly grow toward the sun, with vines climbing vertically under the rooftop of a Pure Flavor greenhouse. It got me thinking, so many of us stand our ground as stewards of the land, but who are the stewards of the sun?
I see no better fit than greenhouse growers, combining the power of a controlled environment with the irrefutable benefits of what is arguably one of our galaxy’s most important celestial bodies. Pure Flavor ventured to introduce Solara to the melon category, bringing forth a single-serve option fit for produce aisles worldwide.
While Pure Flavor’s Tiffany Sabelli, Director of Sales, is well-versed in the language of consumers, this melon practically sells itself—serving up shoppers a personal slice of paradise. I had the chance to hear from the woman herself on how this melon brings us closer to the sun.
Tiffany Sabelli: Solara, also known as the “Me Melon,” is an industry first that uses forward-thinking technology to grow sustainably. There are a variety of melons in the marketplace that Solara will compete against, but when you look at size, quality, flavor, sustainability, and availability, it’s clear to see it has a very strong value proposition. We see this variety in comparison to other large melons that can feed a small family for a week—that is if you don’t forget about all the leftovers in the back of your fridge.
We need to be innovating to increase consumption; removing seasonality and ensuring food safety is key. By producing melons in a controlled environment, we are contributing to sustainability with a recycled growing medium and dedicated irrigation and plant nutrition. Our crops receive the perfect amount of heat and light and are pollinated by bumblebees while being protected from the external environment. This way, we are able to bring forth a consistent product in terms of size, quality, availability, and flavor.
TS: Solara melons are the first of their kind, offering a personal, handheld eating experience that puts paradise in your palm. What makes these gems so unique is that you can eat them in one sitting. They can easily be used as an on-the-go snack; all you have to do is cut them in half, scoop out the small seed cavity, and get snacking!
From a foodservice perspective, Solara melons provide the opportunity for unique recipe creation that minimizes waste. They can serve as personal, healthy menu items that operators do not need to overstock.
We did endless sensory testing to ensure we were pairing Solara with the right items to ensure the juicy sweetness of the melon was always the hero and the accents were complementary to the main product. The product pairings are out of this world. We suggest pairing with herbs like mint, basil, lime, and cardamom, and with foods such as Camembert cheese, prosciutto, grilled sausage, strawberries, and oatmeal.
“We need to be innovating to increase consumption; removing seasonality and ensuring food safety is key.”
Tiffany Sabelli, Director of Sales, Pure Flavor®
TS: We combined the pillars of imagery, messaging, and use to ensure we effectively communicated a clear value proposition for this new item. It’s not just a melon—it’s an experience.
Not only did we create lifestyle-themed content to show how and where the product can be consumed, but we also worked with our content creators throughout North America to get their perspectives on how Solara Mini Melons fit into their lifestyles and ongoing content they create.
By using imagery to position the product, we clearly show the size and ease of use.
Since the melon launched in May, we were able to create more than 37 recipes over just two months’ time, and we fully expect to surpass 50 this year. Many might think they are just for a fruit salad, but given the product pairings our team—both internally and with content creators externally—have created, we are demonstrating a creative prowess to bring out the key features, benefits, and product characteristics that enhance the eating experience.
TS: First off, you would find a personal-sized mini melon, approximately 500–550 g per piece, that is beige in color with a netting-like pattern on the outside. Once sliced open, a light, tropical aroma and vibrant emerald green flesh are revealed, with little seed pulp.
Bite into the Solara melon, and you would experience an explosion of juiciness and fresh flavor right off the bat. This is where the consumer gets hooked—immediately finding themselves associating the melon with warm, beachy weather that brings a paradisiacal experience year-round.
Ultimately, our hope is that consumers find their own slice of paradise, however, they choose to enjoy Solara melons. Even in the cold days of winter, our melons will be providing the same taste and quality shoppers enjoy in the summer months. We want to know, what is YOUR paradise?
TS: Extensive research and brand planning were conducted to ensure the positioning of the product had a strong kickoff at launch, fueled by an extensive promotional trade and consumer strategy that was digitally driven across North America. We needed to understand how we could penetrate the product space with an innovative new item like greenhouse-grown melons.
After eight years of R&D to bring Solara to life, we are developing a complete line of melons that will be complementary to the Mini Galia variety. The key is to be able to take items and develop them in a greenhouse setting and scale the production. More to come on that!
My brain is teeming with excitement at the thought of more single-serve melons hitting the market. The possibilities are seemingly endless in the hands of Pure Flavor’s team. There is no telling where these staunch stewards of the sun will go next, but if the present day is any indication, I am sure each innovation will bring its own slice of paradise.