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A new, lower-cost "Snoopy" watermelon bin will be exhibited at this month's National Watermelon Association convention in Charleston, SC.

Dan Hinkle, the owner of Hinkle Produce, based in Cissna Park, IL, which owns the license to brand all nuts, fruit and vegetables with Peanuts characters, said that the product costs the same as any other printed bin. Previously Hinkle Produce sold a preprinted bin "which made it cost a little more," he said. The new bin is a direct-print two-color (red and green) on white.

International Paper, headquartered in Memphis, TN, produces the bins, and first introduced the new bin in mid-January at the Texas Watermelon Association meeting in South Padre Island, TX, Mr. Hinkle said.

In a Feb. 6 interview, Mr. Hinkle said, "We have several large growers who will use it for the coming year. It is available now." One Florida grower has already ordered 100,000 bins, he noted.

"This is the same price as any other graphic bin. It's the same Snoopy, the same Woodstock and the same slice of watermelon."

With the higher-priced bin, Mr. Hinkle said, came "a lot of controversy over who would pay the cost. The cost is the same [as other bins] now, so there is no reason not to use it, with all the advantages of using it."

The growers can buy the watermelon bins and use them to help retailers merchandise the commodity.

The lower-cost "Snoopy" bin is drawing interest from the citrus industry in starting to use Peanuts characters to promote citrus sales at the retail level. Mr. Hinkle said that the motto of his business is "Targeting children, the future shoppers of tomorrow, to help reduce obesity and help our children eat healthier and live longer through graphics."

(For more on watermelons, see the Feb. 16 issue of The Produce News.)