More retailers are requesting consumer-size bags of Peruvian sweet onions, but that doesn’t mean bulk cartons are no longer relevant.
“We have been selling more and more film bags. I think retail really likes that uniform package across the growing region,” said Brian Kastick, president and general manager for Oso Sweet Onions, Charleston, W. Va.
Oso Sweet Onions offers 3-, 4- and 5-pound bags, and Kastick said he thinks they are gaining in popularity for several reasons, including ease of handling for retail store employees.
“It’s easier to ring them up correctly at the cash register, and they are a value-added item for consumers with the recipes and other information on the bag.
“We have seen an increase in the consumer pack,” said Ralph Diaz, import and export sales manager for DeBruyn Produce Co., Zeeland, Mich.
Diaz said he thinks a main reason for the higher demand for bags is the more unified packaging.
“When you’re running a 2- or 3-pound bag, you get a more uniform onion than, per se, in a 40-pound carton,” he said.
Another important reason the bags are becoming more popular is the ability to use them as marketing tools and as markers for traceability.
“The back of the bag has the bar code and the food safety and lot info,” Kastick said. “It’s nice for the consumer because of the recipes and website info, but also because of the food safety assurance they give,” he said.
John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce, Reidsville, Ga., agrees that the bags offer the opportunity for marketing and brand recognition.
“Through our colorful and engaging consumer bags, Shuman Produce presents a consistent product image all year long,” he said.
There will still be a need for bulk cartons, grower-shippers say, and most companies will still offer them to customers.
Marty Kamer, vice president of Keystone Fruit Marketing, Inc., Greencastle, Pa., says that both kinds of displays can include usage tips, recipes, and nutrition details.
“Nothing says ‘buy me’ like big, prominent bulk and consumer bag displays,” Kamer said. “End caps, stand-alones, value-added product offerings, multi-size strategies and consumer bagged displays offer consumers multiple buying options and ensure sales lift.”
Others agree that both are still relevant.
Diaz has seen both packing options utilize recipe cards and other information for consumers.
“Sweet Onion Trading Co. has a really nice, high-graphic bag,” he said, noting that his company packs for them on occasion.
“We do also have recipe cards that we can put in with our 30-pound bulk bins for retailers to hand out,” he said.
“It’s really about half and half,” said Delbert Bland, owner of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga.
“Naturally, the bags have more visibility. That’s the biggest thing because it’s very good for marketing. But the downside is that they are more expensive versus just having the onions loose,” Bland said.
Now that both are a good option, retailers will need to decide which option suits them best.
“The key to answering that question is in a retailer’s demographics,” Shuman said.
“We recommend stocking a mixture of bagged and bulk product to address the needs of all customers and adjusting based on the consumer response,” he said.