Processed line provides added value to fresh shippers

05/17/2010 04:21:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

VIDALIA, Ga. — While an overwhelming majority of Vidalia onions are sold on the fresh market, grower-shippers in recent years have also found success selling processed Vidalia onion products.

Courtesy Gills Onions LLC

Gills Onions LLC launched a retail fresh-cut line last fall and offers more than 100 stock-keeping units for foodservice, says Nelia Alamo, director of sales and marketing.

If a grower-shipper doesn’t have facilities to process the sweet onions into sauces and dressings, it can sell its culls or off-grade onions to other grower-shippers that have processing operations.

Interest in and sales of the segment have increased during the past two years, said Wendy Brannen, executive director of the Vidalia Onion Committee.

She said growers that process Vidalia onions have boosted their marketing during the past couple of years.

“They are going to more and more regional food shows,” she said. “They have really amped up the volume of marketing that they do for their processed products.”

Brannen said the onion committee during the past year has received more telephone calls and e-mails from companies interested in creating Vidalia products ranging from hamburgers and bread to barbecue sauces.

Growing demand

“We are definitely seeing more and more demand for Vidalia products,” Brannen said.

“We are seeing more products available. We have families in this area that have for years done processed products. They do a wonderful job of developing new products and getting those products out into the market, either with their label or helping other companies create their own products.”

Through its Vidalia Valley brand, Stanley Farms has been in the processing deal since 1999.

Stanley Farms previously purchased products from Manning Farms, Uvalda, a company Stanley purchased, relocating the production line to a facility south of Lyons.

Through the individual quick freeze process, Stanley is able to freeze some of its onions and sell the frozen product throughout the year.

Vidalia Valley sends containers of raw onions and frozen onions to customers, said R.T. Stanley, Stanley Farms’ president.

“We started off pretty small,” he said.


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