Foodservice Events Lead to Promotions
To help promote
of summer, NWPB
partnered with Ibotta,
the mobile “app that
pays you back” by
creating a customer
that targets U.S.
grocery store customers. Ibotta users
engage in a mobile experience that replaces
couponing with fun game-like interactions,
giving consumers what they actually want:
rebates redeemable in all major retailers, and
real cash rewards instead of credit or points.
Starting in September, over two million of their
users have the opportunity to unlock rebates on
the purchase of any pre-cut watermelon by
taking a poll or viewing a recipe.
The rebates are redeemable until the $25,000
budget is depleted. The Ibotta retail app
heavily targets the Millenial generation and
shoppers who prefer their mobile device for
their internet usage. The app will provide
targeted and specific key messaging incentiviz-ing watermelon purchases at the start of the
Foodservice is a diverse audience with many different segments.
In the first year of the foodservice program, the NWPB has strategically invested in sponsorships to reach these segments and
better understand watermelon’s opportunity on menus.
Higher education is a great foodservice segment because they
can be creative with their menu and educate consumers in
dining locations. We sponsored the “NACUFS Café,” at National
Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS)
National Conference, an event set up like a tradeshow during
registration for members to sample and learn about products.
The watermelon samples demonstrated how watermelon fits
trends in campus dining, including grab-n-go and healthy
options. Juice, fresh-cut, and Stacked Watermelon Chicken
Salad were served. Attendees primarily include watermelon on
salad and breakfast bars but they appreciated tasting the recipe
as an example of the flavor, texture, and color that watermelon
adds to recipes.
Even more important then the education segment, the NWPB
wants to reach restaurants, making up more than 60% of the
foodservice audience. At PMA Foodservice, watermelon was
everywhere! We sponsored the Strolling Lunch dessert. Staff
worked with a chef consultant, Chef Dave Woolley, to create
Watermelon Pudding with Mint Crème Fraiche, Brown Butter-Pistachio Crumble and Pickle Watermelon Rind Slivers. To reach
the same segment, We sponsored The Flavor Experience. The
eight uses of watermelon during the conference included grilled,
compressed, pickled and juiced.
Chef Dave developed foodservice recipes including a
watermelon Pancake Sandwich, Grilled Watermelon Salad,
Pickled Rind & Fresh Watermelon with Lamb Chorizo, and
Watermelon Moscow Mule.
During PMA Foodservice and The Flavor Experience, watermelon was discussed throughout general and breakout sessions.
Several examples established watermelon’s relevance in many
foodservice trends including veg-centric cuisine and “root to
stem cooking.” At the Flavor Experience, Chef Dave was also
invited to be on a panel focused on innovative desserts. He
took the opportunity to spotlight on-trend watermelon.
Chefs are also an important audience with influence in foodservice. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the largest
professional chef organization in North America. Chefs are
required to earn ongoing credits to maintain their level of
accreditation; one of the credit earning workshops was a Fruit
Carving Sculpture workshop sponsored by the NWPB. We also
sponsored the Welcome Reception and served Watermelon
Rind Slaw and Watermelon Feta Bruschetta.
The ultimate goal for the sponsorships is to make the contacts
to increase the use of watermelon on higher education campuses as well as in restaurants across the country. Follow-up to the
contacts from all of the events will hopefully lead to more
watermelon on menus and potential promotion opportunities in
the future. The Board offers culinary and marketing support to
chains interested in featuring watermelon for the first time or in
a new way.
The foodservice program is built to work cohesively. We sponsor events, makes
contacts, provide culinary or marketing support to chains and finally, the watermelon
menu item is pitched to foodservice media to inspire chefs to use watermelon. As the
foodservice program progresses, the model seems to be operating at full capacity!
Inspired by samples at NACUFS, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst hosted a
Watermelon Day on September 9, 2015 featuring eight watermelon recipes throughout the day, in all four of their dining halls, available to more than 19,000 students
and faculty. The NWBP provided brochures and other materials. UMass used existing
NWPB recipes but they did create a new recipe we will be pitching to foodservice
A contact made at the Flavor Experience is already showing results. First Watch, a
breakfast, brunch and lunch concept, primarily in the east and central regions of the
U.S., is featuring a watermelon menu item. The Surprise and Shine juice features
watermelon, English cucumber, lime, carrot and beet. The juice is a part of their
Tastes of Fall limited time menu, available from August 31-November 7, 2015. The
juice is supported by a menu insert and beautiful tabletop point of sale featuring an
image of the juice. In addition to the website and health messages, the section of the
menu insert talking about watermelon is titled, “A Fruit for All Seasons;” a great way
to promote watermelon’s year-round availability. First Watch has 135 locations in
addition to 20 The Good Egg, 116 The Egg & I and one Bread & Company.
There were great contacts made and other promotions in the works for the future.
Adding more watermelon to menus is a long-term investment.
Watermelon Is on
Trend for Foodservice