The Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee is turning up the heat with this year’s promotional partnership with Weber grills.
The promotion had its introduction at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference and Expo in July.
“We’re getting a huge amount of buzz already,” said Sherise Jones, marketing director.
The event included the committee’s executive chef Nick Duncan, who was on hand to provide demonstrations of several grill recipes on a Weber griddle at the show.
“We were definitely one of the crowd favorites,” Jones said.
Jones said the committee chose to focus on Weber after selecting a grilling platform.
“Our message has always been that we grow a premium onion for cooking, with high solid content and low water, and it just seemed that more and more people are enjoying grilling at home for a variety of reasons,” she said.
Some of these reasons include the slower economy, but others stem from new programs on food channels that are entirely devoted to grilling and great grilling recipes.
“We wanted to capitalize on that trend of enjoying grilled food, and it works great for us because our onions are so great when they are cooked,” Jones said.
The committee began discussions with Weber in March, according to Jones, and was pleased when the company was interested.
“They’ve done a lot of promotions with other food entities, but they haven’t done an onion entity. They liked our concept and felt comfortable with our flavor profile, and they were on board to supply these items for us,” she said .
The promotion will include several different contests and sweepstakes, as well as in store displays, recipes and other events, beginning with the opportunity for produce retailers to feature a Weber grill in their stores as part of a dynamic display.
“We’re offering free charcoal kettle grills to retailers that would like to use a grill in the produce section for an onion display,” Jones said.
There will only be a limited number of grills to give out, and they will be available from September to December, while they last, according to Jones.
The second aspect of giving retailers these grills is the display contest.
This contest is set to begin Dec. 15, the start of football bowl season, and will run through the Super Bowl in early February.
The timing of onion season fits especially well with the football season, according to Jones, and because of that, the committee has focused on promoting their onions through “home-gating.”