( File photo )

Watermelon is seeing growth on restaurant menus, and more chefs and foodservice operators are turning to the National Watermelon Promotion Board for ideas.

The board recently commissioned a MenuTrends Research study, conducted by Datassential, that shows a 54% increase in menu mentions in the past four years.

The board’s Foodservice program is in its fifth year, and is seeing a record number of operators interested in promotional support, education and ideas, according to a news release. The NWPB commissions the menu research every other year to benchmark progress and identify opportunities.

Beyond menu mentions, the research showed emerging trends and opportunities for growth, including flavor pairings and unique uses. Megan McKenna, director of the NWPB’s foodservice program, plans to use the information when meeting a diversity of operators, from regional/national chains, sports venues, and education sectors, according to the release.

According to the Datassential research:

  • Watermelon limited-time offers were featured in 11 months, showing the fruit is not just a summer item;
  • National chains are expanding watermelon use faster than regional chains and independents;
  • Casual and fine dining restaurants feature watermelon more often, but all segments have grown; and
  • Watermelon is 22nd on the list of most popular fruits, but is third among greatest 4-year growth.

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