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You’ve heard it before: Work smarter, not harder, right?

This sage advice is never as applicable as when it comes to managing summer melons. Besides the hearty, heave-ho melons require to get them from truck to shelf, here’s a few tips that might be of help.

1. Remember: summer melons ARE special

Sure, customers are used to seeing melons year-round. But domestic, summer melons come from extra-warm growing areas, which are conducive to developing extra-sweet, perfectly mature fruit. Some chains even measure and post daily sugar levels (brix percentage) as a part of their signage.

2. Arrange for direct, drop-shipments
Bypass the warehouse and arrange with your buyers to have a half or full load of watermelons drop-shipped. You’ll save the usual warehouse upcharge, and get fresher product. Line up the fully-loaded bin pallets in predetermined lobby areas or in shaded outdoor space. By doing so this will help minimize labor and duplicate handling

3. Group together for best appeal
You’ll need multiple displays of watermelon and other melons (especially if any are on ad) to most efficiently rotate product and offer lots of buying opportunities for your customers. Provide a full line of grouped-together watermelon, honeydews, cantaloupe within the produce department for best appeal.

4. Allocate plenty of room for the ‘power’ melons
Besides sporting plenty of watermelons, remember honeydew and cantaloupe provide ample summertime tonnage as well. Try building spillover displays using shipper cartons in front for a bountiful look, or consider reusing empty bins (dummied up to minimize shrink) for an efficient way to bulk-merchandise cantaloupe and honeydews.

5. Tie in specialty melons for best exposure
With names like Santa Claus, canary, Casaba and crenshaw, it’s little wonder customers often give these incredibly flavorful melons little more than a suspicious glance. Don’t be afraid to give each one several facings (dummy up if need be to limit shrink), and sign all your melon displays vibrantly with bullet points including: Name, Source, Texture, Flavor Profile, “Especially high in…” (List good nutrition points), or “Ripe When...”  

6. Promote the cuts
Most customers will take a chance on a half or quarter melon to start with, so let ‘em have it! Cut watermelons (halves, quarters and even eighths) sell especially well during the summer months. There’s always a way to find extra linear space to widen out and accommodate more cuts, be it on a multi-deck refrigerated case or in an iced bin. Merchandise cuts using all melon varieties for best visual appeal and sales. Rotate and replenish the display often during the day, and discard any unsightly or day-old product. Many chains charge a premium for cut melons, so this point alone should encourage you to build this all-important segment into your labor plan. Finally, when customers see a vibrant cut display, they’re more likely to buy the uncut melons too.

7. Sample the goods
With melons “Eating like candy” — as many a melon grower will attest, treat your shoppers to a sampling of the goods. Arrange with your demo team now to include melons this summer. Each week, strive to sample at least one familiar melon each week, along with one, not-as-familiar, to get the best bang for your demo team expense.

8. Rotate, cull, train
Melons are well over 90% water. The respiration (evaporation) rate is much higher than many consider. With this in mind, make it a point to rotate displays daily, and cull any soft, dehydrated or otherwise unsaleable fruit. Train your clerks to handle the fruit gently, never drop or dump product, and teach them how to choose a ripe melon in each subcategory. Many customers will hesitate in front of a melon display. That’s the moment to intervene and talk it up: “Can I help you select a ripe cantaloupe (honeydew/watermelon, etc.) today? Here’s what I look for in choosing a good one …”

Remember we’re the experts, help customers early and often, and you’ll win over melon fans for the whole summer.

Melons are a dominant summertime category and a customer favorite.

No doubt about the potential. Summer melon sales and gross profits are like, heavy, man. 

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