Onion shippers are prepared to pack in a variety of sizes and styles. In fact, some shippers have said that despite some trends, standard sizes have gone out the window.
Delbert Bland, president of Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms, said there’s really no normal pack size for onions anymore.
“There’s really no such thing as a standard pack anymore. It’s a very wide variation of all sizes,” he said.
Many companies say that packing to order is the best way to manage all these pack styles.
“We run each order to order. We don’t pack them ahead,” Bland said.
Others agree that there are multiple popular bag sizes.
“We pack in cartons and all sizes of packs, mainly the 2-, 3-, 5- and 10-pound bags, with a lot of different carton sizes as well.” said Bill Coombs, sales, Desert Spring Produce, Hatch, N.M.
Shippers say advances in packing technology have helped get the industry to this point.
“We can be a lot more precise with sizing now, so that allows us to size to the exact consumer need,” Bland said.
Others agree that new packing technology is helpful when it comes to accuracy, as well as speed.
“The speed and accuracy with which we can pack allows us to stage loads prior to the truck arriving to pick up. This is important to trucking companies since they no longer can afford to wait to get loaded,” said Chris Franzoy, president of Young Guns Produce Inc., Deming, N.M.
Retailers have also played a part in developing the many onion pack sizes and styles, because they often seek to offer multiple options to shoppers, particular in bagged and bulk options.
“It seems the trend is for retailers to present onions in more than one format, which is great because it provides more exposure for the category,” said Dan Borer, general manager for Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc.
Despite sizing differences, more and more bags seem to be used.
“The trend over the last several years is for more consumer bags,” Bland said.
John Shuman, president and director of sales, Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., agreed bags are gaining ground in the market.
“We’ve seen the popularity of our consumer bags steadily increase since their introduction to the market. They currently account for just under half of our total annual volume shipped to market,” he said in an e-mail.
In addition, Matt Curry, president of Curry & Co., Brooks, Ore., said bag sales are strongest at the beginning of each month.
“We continue to have stronger bag sales for the first two weeks of the month, which is economy-related,” he said.
“Many consumers stock up on staple items such as onions at the start of the month and then expect them to last for the entire month,” Curry said.
Shippers say that despite differences, the overall trend has been for bags to increase in size.
“The trend is more the heavier side than what it used to be,” Bland said.
Coombs said most consumer bags are for smaller-sized onions.
“Normally, consumer bags are mediums,” he said.
However, Curry said he has seen good demand for its 2-pound sweet onion bag.
“We feel it sets it apart from the usual 3-pound and 5-pound bags of your standard yellow, white and red onion bags,” Curry said.
On the organic side, the 3-pound consumer bag seems to be the most requested, according to Matt Roberts, sales manager, Viva Tierra Organic, Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Wash.
“The vast majority of our organic onions go to the 3-pound bag for retail, which is easy to get through on the front end and has relatively low shrink,” Roberts said.