When Stanford University released a report last year suggesting the nutritional content of organic produce is no better than conventional produce, the organic industry held its breath.
While it’s still too early to tell whether the report will affect the organic market, onion growers are optimistic.
“We see some growth in demand for organic onions,” said Teri Gibson, director of marketing and customer relations for Peri & Sons Farms, Yerington, Nev., which certifies about 8% of its crop in Firebaugh, Calif.
“I think that those who buy organic products do it as part of an overall lifestyle commitment and I think (it) will continue to grow,” Gibson said.
Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms also has seen growth in organics, said marketing director Sarah Seebran.
“Ours are available during Vidalia season and periodically throughout the year,” Seebran said.
John Shuman, president of Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce, said organic Vidalia sweet onions represent an important part of his overall program.
Viva Tierra Organics, based in Sedro-Woolley, Wash., which has grown onions for years in eastern Oregon, is becoming a bigger player in the wholesale organic market, sales manager Matt Roberts said.
“On May 2 we wrapped up a fantastic season on organic red and yellow onions,” he said.
“We generally go about a month later, but it was a good season and prices were well ahead of conventional — a lot of times they’re not much further ahead.”
A new ultra-modern packing shed in Hermiston, Ore. will improve the company’s quality and storage capacity, he said.