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Welcome Back to Music City – ‘22


Changing a host city and hotel is no small task, but we are working to make it happen quickly to meet your expectations.  The 107th National Watermelon Convention & Annual Meeting of the National Watermelon Association will be held in ‘downtown’ Nashville, Tennessee at the beautiful Sheraton Grand Hotel on Union Street. Four years ago the hotel completed a $35 million renovation, placing the 28-floor hotel in the most elite classification in the Sheraton brand, as one of only five Sheraton Grand's in the U.S.  Take a look and see for yourself:    

Today, we are sharing a pre-release of the agenda and registrations.  We will have all-to-do with the convention including hotel reservations links posted to our website within the next two weeks, so please bear with us.  We also opened the nominations for our Marketing Award and the Future WM Farm Leaders program.  

In the coming weeks we will release more details about the national convention as we make the necessary arrangements and finalize the change-of-venue to create those wonderful, new memories.  
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.  Thank you in advance for your patience as we work to finalize so many moving parts of the convention.  We look forward to seeing you in Music City USA – Nashville in February for what will be another great national convention and a renewal of the association post-COVID.  See you soon.




Future Leaders

Marketing Award



A Needed Change of Venue

A Message from our Executive Director

Hello Friends:
From the earliest weeks and months of the coronavirus pandemic, the NWA has strived to keep our members’ safety top-of-mind while we navigate through the unknowns of COVID-19.  Keeping our members safe when we gather is paramount to our efforts, and that assurance will continue.
Following a series of reviews with numerous professionals, a legal review of the New York City vaccine mandate, and a one-day member survey with an overwhelming majority ‘unwilling’ to go to NYC, it became perfectly clear that we had to take action.  The city-wide mandate will not allow over half of our attendees to access the convention space, which required us to seek a new location outside of New York City.  While this move may disappoint some of our members, it is necessary and prudent to allow the NWA to be able to hold a ‘complete’ convention with access to all.     
The Association reached out to our hotelier contacts in eight (8) states in an immediate effort to seek a new home for our national convention.  We are very fortunate, thankful and pleased to announce to you that the 107th National Watermelon Convention & Annual Meeting of the National Watermelon Association has a very welcoming, new home in February.  Our new hosts are located in ‘downtown’ Nashville, Tennessee at the beautiful Sheraton Grand Hotel on Union Street. 
Just four years ago the hotel completed a $35 million renovation, placing the 28-floor hotel in the most elite classification in the Sheraton brand, as one of only five Sheraton Grand's in the United States.  Take a look:  This beautiful property will be our hosts in just four (4) months, and we will be the exclusive group that will meet in-house. 
A significant change like this will require a delay in our normal timing to open the convention up.  We have a goal of November 1st to open hotel room reservations, convention registrations, sponsorships, exhibit space, speaking opportunities, and more.  You will find all of the pertinent information posted on the convention page at by that kickoff date.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to anyone of us on the NWA Team.  Thank you in advance for your patience, and we look forward to seeing you in Music City USA – Nashville in February for what will be another great national convention.  See you soon.
Bob Morrissey
Executive Director, NWA


A Message About the 2022 NWA Convention in New York City

On behalf of the Team at the NWA, we want to provide you all with an update as we continue to prepare for the NWA’s National Convention & Annual Meeting in New York City from February 20-27, 2022.  We are very excited to enter into a renewal period that will bring us back together in-person and in a safe environment.  Our top priority at the convention will be the health and safety of our attendees and staff.
Let’s look at what’s happening today.  No matter where you may live in the USA, all you have to do is to turn on a radio or television and you hear the debate over masks, restrictions (or the lack of), vaccines, boosters to the vaccines, and the escalating virus rates from the Delta variant.  Unless you turn off your electronics altogether, there seemingly is no way to get passed the noise.  The problem is that banter is causing anxiety and questions from many about whether the convention will go to New York in February, with some of those questions resulting from the recent mandates set forth by the City that require masks and at least one vaccine shot to gain access to restaurants, Broadway shows and other indoor venues.
Let’s take a deep breath for a second, and look at the facts for a moment.  Last year we heard about NYC every single day as it unfortunately was the epicenter of the coronavirus.  Today, that designation belongs where the NWA is based in Central Florida where similar mandates are ‘not’ in place.  New York City made the tough decision to mandate practices that will hopefully keep the City from going back to where they were one year ago.  They were in a very bad place, and their plan of action is to keep from going back there again.
No matter what requirements may still exist seven months from now, the NWA will continue to work with the Marriott Marquis to align our group with Marriott’s protocols that follow CDC guidelines and City mandates, while the NWA will offer our attendees the use of NWA-provided masks, hand sanitizers, and follow any social distancing measures that may exist at that time.  Again, our top priority is to protect health and safety first!  That effort will allow us the opportunity to create our next family reunion. ‘You can rest assured that the NWA will work with our partners, the hotel and the City to create and offer a national convention that you have come to expect that is safe, secure, educational, and entertaining.  That has become our trademark, and we are committed to continue that vital role to kickoff the 2022 domestic season.’

The NWA is in constant contact with Marriott’s leadership and NYC Officials, and we are assured that our national convention will happen.  The rest, including its success, is up to us.  Stay tuned for periodic updates, and SAVE THE DATES.  We are going to host the 107th edition of the National Watermelon Association Convention & Annual Meeting at the Marriott Marquis – Times Square in February 2022.  Our time to renew, celebrate and reunite is coming shortly, and we are expecting you to be with us all.  We look forward to greeting you as our Watermelon Family has always done for over 100 years.  New York City Here We Come!


We are actively seeking any and all solutions to the pallet/wood shortage

All indications are that the wood (lumber) situation will continue (most likely) through this entire year, and potentially beyond.  That is a frightening indication, no doubt.  There are numerous reasons why, and most of them are out of our hands to resolve.  The major cause of the void is lumber prices that are being paid by home builders and construction.  Lumber futures have skyrocketed to prices that are 6-10 times higher than the norm of the 2015-2019 era.  The Wall Street Journal article about lumber futures provides a great deal of background.   

The NWA, in cooperation with a number of our colleagues, is shaking every tree to seek solutions.  We suggested to our F&V colleagues that a national letter be sent to the executives of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and National Grocers Association (NGA) by United Fresh Produce Association.  See United’s letter HERE.  Our friends at the Texas International Produce Association have issued their own letter, and we anticipate that other colleagues will follow suit with similar sentiments.   

The National Watermelon Association (NWA) has written a letter for your use with your watermelon buyers and shipping contacts.  Here is your chance to help us to seek solutions.  The United Fresh letter will potentially reach some retailer executives, but it will be vital to make sure that the buyers, category managers and shipping contacts are aware of this situation - - they are on the front lines of product purchasing, receiving and distribution.  Please, if you will, share the NWA letter with your contacts – every one of them!  Please do so Today!  You can access the NWA letter HERE.    

Local and state politicians have engaged to help, where they can.  Our local Congresswoman contacted the President of Publix, asking for his retail chain’s support and to encourage the National Grocers Association to help solve the problem.  She also talked with the President of Pallet One to hopefully help.  Nikki Fried, Florida’s AG Commissioner, is now getting involved.  As the watermelon season moves northward, we anticipate that more retailers, more politicians and others will engage, and that’s good.  The more trees that we can shake, maybe some solutions will be the result.

A good example of how a retailer can help is the conversation I had on Wednesday with the gentleman at Publix Super Markets that is responsible for the pallets in their distribution centers and stores.  They became aware of this issue recently and began a company-wide effort to communicate the need to return all pallets, hold weekly calls with the pallet companies, and have them pick them up for return them to the pools.  In some cases, he indicated that Publix has used their own trucks and drivers to return pallets to the pooling systems.  This response is extraordinary, mind you, and it is very welcome.  If we could get other retailers to do half of that, we would be headed in the right direction. 

Retailers and wholesalers can help to diminish the severity of this issue by releasing pallets back into the pooling systems as soon as they are emptied (rather than holding them or sending them internally to packaged goods suppliers).  Perishable products like F&V crops should take precedence - - crops cannot wait!  And, the retailers that have specific pallet requirements can be lenient by providing ‘waivers’ during this crisis.  In fact, one of my counterparts has arranged for the CEOs of both United Fresh and PMA to contact one major club store operator to apprise them of this issue and suggest a waiver of their pallet requirement at least until November 1st.  We’ll see what happens soon.     

Let’s be frank about this: this situation is, in fact, a crisis.  The magnitude of the issue is potentially different from region to region, but it is coming to your area if it has not already, so please get ready ….. This is not an issue to be unprepared for.

Across the years we’ve seen you surf through labor issues, audits, raids, food safety outbreaks, cost variations, increased competition, trade pressures, trucking issues, and so many more ….. and every time you were resilient and got through it.  But this issue …. this crisis …. is something that is not easily solvable.  We don’t own a timber forest or a sawmill to manufacture pallets for you, nor can we go backward to the days of trailers lined with beds of hay for direct-store delivery, or the age of railcars.  The fact is we need pallets with bins filled with fresh watermelons on trucks to get watermelons to market - - there are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it.

Please join us, get yourself involved, and seek solutions everywhere and anywhere.  Send the NWA letter to your buyers and shipping contacts.  The United Fresh letter will reach the executives, but let’s make sure that everyone in the supply chain knows what the problem is, and get them to help find solutions.  We cannot say with any certainty what the solutions are, or when we will find them, but if we all try together, maybe we’ll be blessed and get through this.  
The power of this association (the NWA) is that we try - - we try really hard - - to solve problems.  That’s what we do - - and that’s why we are here.  We will keep you informed every step of the way – we promise that to you.  In a case so severe and threatening like this, we need your help too - - we cannot do this alone.  Let’s get the word out, do our best, pray too, and maybe, just maybe we’ll get through this season okay.  There are no promises to be made; no commitments to be reviewed; it’s just us doing our best, and being what we are – a caring family – and a great association.  We’re in with both feet and up to it as far as we can be.  Can we count on each and every one of you too?  I think we can.  Let’s do this Together! 

Read More

United’s letter

NWA Letter

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