The National Watermelon board has planned a full slate of watermelon promotions, according to Gordon Hunt, director of marketing and communications.
In addition to the promotions surrounding the upcoming release of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,” Hunt says the Orlando, Fla.-based board has several other projects planned, including the annual display contest.
“This is our fourth year in a row for the display contest, which is continentwide, during the month of July,” he said.
Hunt says the state watermelon queens have been selecting and are going through the necessary training to represent the commodity at the retail level.
“The queens work with retail stores, and when you have a watermelon queen in your section, the lowest increase in sales that I’ve ever seen has been 100%,” he said.
Even higher increases are the norm, Hunt said.
He said a large part of the board’s job is their ongoing education efforts with retail staff.
“There’s a rapid turnover in retail, and new people coming in that don’t know the product, so we spend a lot of time explaining the basics of watermelons,” he said.
Price by the pound
One tip Hunt said is slowly catching on is the practice of putting watermelon on sale with a price by the pound instead of by the unit.
“If you price it as a single unit price, say $7.99, people pass it by, but the minute it changes to 50 cents or 90 cents a pound, people start thinking it’s a bargain and snap it up,” he said.
Hunt also said recipes will remain a key part of their promotion efforts, as well as continuing to target the customer that came into the store without watermelon on their list.
“You really have to attract people’s attention. We always encourage produce managers to have a watermelon sliced open so people can see it, especially if you have great color,” Hunt said.
Sampling, byt staff and consumers
He also recommends sampling, even within the produce department staff.
“Always taste it yourself first, and have staff taste it too because you want to make sure you don’t have a low brix shipment,” he said.
Recipe cards are helpful at the retail level because they help remind consumers of all the different things that can be made with watermelon.
“It’s even better if you sample with a recipe card because people can see that they can grill it, make a barbecue sauce or add it to a salad,” Hunt said.
Other plans for the summer include continued research for the best varieties and taking advantage of some technological advances, including the possibility for watermelon juice to be sold at Starbucks this year.