( Photo courtesy Elena Koycheva; Source Unsplashed )

The National Watermelon Promotion Board’s Foodservice Program has helped the fruit gain traction with operators over the past five years, and the board expects more of the same is expected in 2020.

In May, the Winter Springs, Fla.-based board reported a MenuTrends research study that said watermelon on menus grew by 54% in the past four years.

So far in the 2019-20 marketing year, the board deployed several initiatives to further raise awareness of watermelons on foodservice menus, according to a news release. The board:

  • Found and created watermelon examples of the plant-forward trend to promote to chefs and operators;
  • Sponsored the Culinary Institute of America’s Global Plant-Forward Culinary Summit;
  • Worked with the Culinary Institute to create plant-forward recipes,found www.ciaprochef.com/watermelon;
  • Participated in FoodOvation, operating a “watermelon playground” with multiple formats and techniques including flesh, juice, rind, smoked watermelon, and grilled watermelon. At the event, the board met with 38 operators representing more than 20,000 foodservice locations;
  • Attended the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Expo and The Flavor Experience, with both events reaching reached hundreds of marketing, culinary and purchasing decision-makers from both operators and distributors;
  • Staff was invited by the executive chef from Google to present to their culinary team. Google’s California’s campus serves more than 40,000 meals a day; and 
  • Staff led an Ideation session with Garden Fresh, the parent company of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes.
  • Provided promotional support for operators. In 2019, promotions took place in over 700 restaurants in more than 35 states;
  • Social media giveaways and amplification for First Watch’s Summer Blush juice including watermelon at 300 locations. The juice variety has become the most successful juice in First Watch history, according to the release; and
  • Provided promotional support activities, including i-store signage, social media messages across multiple channels, and more.

For more information about the board’s foodservice program, visit watermelon.org/foodservice or contact Megan McKenna at [email protected]

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