“Now, since getting the company to do IQF, I don’t know how fast it will grow, but I don’t see anything except demand continuing to grow. Any added value that we can work with on our onions will really help the industry as a whole.”
Stanley said his operation sends up to 2 million pounds of onions a year to the processing division.
Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, entered the mail order business in 1985 and began selling a retail line of condiments in 1998.
Sandra Bland, sales and marketing director of Vidalia Brands Inc., which markets Bland’s dressings, relishes and other onion products, said sales often dip in the fall and winter when fresh Vidalia onions aren’t in supply.
“There are sweet onions all year long but it is still a challenge to get them to display Vidalia products during the off-season,” she said.
“Consumers look for them all year long, but it’s a matter of floor space and shelf space.”
R.E. Hendrix, president of Hendrix Produce Inc., Metter, agrees that securing shelf space can be challenging.
Hendrix sells a small volume of its relishes to the same supermarket chains that purchases its fresh onions.
Those stores promote the value-added product primarily during the Vidalia season, Hendrix said.
“It’s not a moneymaker. It’s just something you have to have for your retail customers,” he said.
“The chain stores’ footage and shelf space has to turn so much. It’s a bloody game out there. They can’t have something setting on the shelves and not move. It moves during the Vidalia season but not at other times. No one wants to pick up a high-dollar relish.”
Hendrix used to also sell more of his processed products via mail order.
The mail order sales, however, can cause headaches, Hendrix said.
M&T Farms, Lyons, purchases products for sale under M&T’s label.
“The processed onions are important to the industry because there is so much costs in growing the onions that it helps to have a different outlet to go to other than shredding them in the field,” said Aries Haygood, operations manager.
Bland said Vidalia Brands in May plans to introduce a line of all-natural and low-calorie products that don’t use preservatives.