Mark Arney, executive director of the National Watermelon Promotion Board, spoke Feb. 22 at the National Watermelon Association convention. ( Tom Karst )

Orlando, Fla. — Just 45 minutes from the offices of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Winter Spring, Fla., Mark Arney reminded National Watermelon Association members that both groups have benefited from many of the same leaders.

“Not far from here was the first meeting of the promotion board near the Orlando airport in 1990,” said Arney, executive director of the board, at the watermelon association’s annual convention. 


Arney said association leaders were central to the establishment of the promotion board and continue to play a role today.

Arney joked that the 1990 establishment of the promotion board was the top event that year, followed perhaps by the creation of the world wide web.

With the reference to the Internet, Arney unveiled a retooled National Watermelon Promotion Board website, at www.watermelon.org. The revamped site has been under development for about two years, he said, and required U.S. Department of Agriculture approval of messaging because it oversees marketing and promotion orders.

The official website, with consumer and B2B content, launches April 1, Arney said.

“The website will continue to be the hub for all things watermelon, especially for consumers,” Arney said.
The footer on all pages has links to watermelon board social media pages and the watermelon MyPlate.gov web page.

The website also highlights grower stories and how the melons move from field to table. 

Consumers love ideas on how to use watermelon, Arney said.

“Recipes continue to be one of the main drivers to the website, and approximately 30% of all visitors are looking at recipes,” Arney said.

The website will eventually feature about 270 selected recipes.

“(Recipes) are kind of the star and we’re going to have a contest this year to drive more visitors to the website, comments and engagements for 2020,” he said.

Nutrition is the main talking point for all audiences, especially consumers, and the board will feature nutrition messages as part of the site revamp. It also features a dietitian toolkit, launched last year for foodservice professionals. 

The website provides an abundance of resources for retailers and foodservice professionals, including information on storage, selection and year-round availability.

“Promotion tips provide the best practices and help retailers build better displays to sell more,” he said.
For foodservice, the website strives to educate and inspire foodservice professionals to motivate them to use more watermelon, Arney said, including ideas on flavor pairing, carving techniques, and more.

A new feature for the website will be an opt-in supplier database, and Arney encouraged attendees to input their information.

The website will also include a new report with retail scan data and other sales tracking data.

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