Gordon Hunt, director of marketing and communications for the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Orlando, Fla., enjoys having watermelon paired up with almost anything. Salmon? Sure. Sweet potatoes? Bring it on.
“No one minds being paired with watermelon because we’re a pleasant, happy, feel-good product,” he said.
What if chicken or yogurt is the stand-out item being promoted over watermelon? Do they mind being second fiddle?
“We don’t mind if we’re not the lead item,” he said. “That’s what makes us a good partner.”
Hunt explained that when notified of a possible collaboration with another food, the board can act quickly to create recipes and accompanying photographs. If a store has a certain commodity it wants to move, watermelons are ready to roll.
“To the retail market, we try to be as helpful as we can,” he said. “We ask, ‘What can we do and how can watermelon help you move more product?’”
Hunt also offered this tip to retailers: Price watermelon per pound instead of per melon. This shows customers that they are getting a deal.
“People are looking for a bargain,” he said.
“You want to sell the watermelon by showing what a value it is for the money — that’s a real selling point.”
Craig Ignatz, vice president of produce and floral merchandising for Giant Eagle Inc., Pittsburgh, said summer melon promotions were still being finalized.
“In support of watermelons, we have signage educating how to properly select a ripe watermelon, and we’ll also include a recipe for a unique salsa made with watermelons,” he said.
Additional departmental signs describe proper cantaloupe selection, as well as profiles and tasting notes of eight specialty melons.
A possible future promotion: watermelon teaming up with health organizations.
Studies are being conducted on citrulline, an amino acid found in watermelon. The body converts and uses it to restore elasticity in blood vessels, allowing the heart to pump easier.
“Health (aspects) will drive consumption in the foreseeable future,” Hunt said.