Onion marketers say cross-promotions are one of the most effective ways to drive interest in onions at the retail level.

John Shuman, president and director of sales, Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., who is currently in the peak of marketing Vidalia onions, said cross-promotion opportunities are nearly limitless.

“Plenty of opportunities exist for pairing Vidalias in the produce aisle, but they can also be effectively merchandised alongside grilling-related items to take advantage of the outdoor cooking season,” Shuman said.

He also said using these strategies is profitable for retailers.

“Sweet onions display strong affinities with a wide variety of products in and out of the produce department and should be included in a wide variety of cross-promotions to increase basket size,” Shuman said. “After all, the average sweet onion basket is roughly 40% larger than the average produce basket.”

Others agree.

“Combining onions with similar products or products that pair well with onions, like potatoes, cabbage, or anything else, really helps,” said Corey Griswold, president, ProSource Inc., Hailey, Idaho.

Even nonfood items are a good pairing.

Kim Reddin, director of public relations for the Greeley, Colo.-based National Onion Association said onions work really well as a reason for retailers to bring grilling items like skewers and other barbeque accessories into the produce department.

In addition, onions can be displayed outside their traditional location.

“I’ve seen onion keepers placed above the meat display, as a great subtle reminder to check out the produce section for onions and other fresh vegetables to pair with protein on the grill,” Reddin said.

Another popular summertime cross promotion theme is salads.

“Salad dressings, and really anything sold in the produce department, can be paired with onions for a vegetable salad display,” Reddin said.

Cindy Elrod, sales and new business development, Peri & Sons Farms Inc., Yerington, Nev., said cross-promotions are great for getting onions out of the produce department, especially in the summer.

“Anything that’s barbecue-related can help retailers build a cross-merchandising display with onions,” Elrod said, mentioning patio furniture, grilling items and picnic supplies as being easy pairings, along with perishable items like fresh herbs and condiments, or even chicken breasts.

“Make it fun for the consumers and give them ideas of how to incorporate onions into those outside grilling events,” Elrod said.

The company’s new Bloomin’ BBQ onion can be displayed outside the department with a three-box stand-alone display.

“It’s great in the meat department or near the front door when consumers walk into the store,” Elrod said.

Greg Smith, marketing communications manager, Bland Farms, Glenville, Ga., said the company has a combination bin available that will utilize both bagged onions and Vidalia Brands products.

“We feel this is an ideal way to draw customers’ attention to our Vidalia Brands product line. It’s also extremely convenient for retailers since everything arrives pre-packed in one specially packed bin,” Smith said.

The bins will hit stores around Memorial Day.

In addition, Bland Farms will offer an on-pack coupon on many of its bagged onions at various points throughout the Vidalia season. The coupon will cross-promote Vidalia sweet onions with the Vidalia Brands sweet onion condiment line.

“The on-pack coupon will allow customers to instantly save 55 cents on any Vidalia Brands item with the purchase of a bag of our Vidalia sweet onions at participating retailers,” Smith said in an e-mail.