Promoting Peruvian sweet onions tends to be easier because of their signature flat shape, shippers say.
“The good thing about a Peruvian onion is that it’s a flat seed variety, a flat onion,” said Derek Rodgers, director of sales for Sweet Onion Trading Co., Melbourne, Fla.
Others agree the shape of Peru’s onions is key to promoting them as sweet onions.
“The familiar shape and color of our granex sweet onions from Peru signifies sweet — a fact that consumer research has proven in multiple studies,” said John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce, Reidsville, Ga.
“If it’s a round onion and it says it’s from Peru, you should be asking questions,” said Margret DeBruyn, president and chief executive officer of DeBruyn Produce Co., Zeeland, Mich.
Shuman also said Peruvian onions are similar in shape to Vidalia onions, which is a benefit when it comes to consumers recognizing the product as being a truly sweet onion, whether it’s certified.
“When it comes to Peruvian sweet onions, studies show that consumers are familiar with the shape and color and identify these onions as sweet. It’s no surprise as the world’s most famous sweet onion — the Vidalia onion — shares the same qualities as those we grow and import from Peru,” he said.
Several companies are still choosing to certify their onions as sweet through the National Onion Lab’s certification program as a way to further assure customers that Peru provides a quality sweet onion.
“We’re not required to test them, but we’re willing to do it to assure our customers they are really getting a sweet onion,” Rodgers said.
Despite the characteristic shape, companies also use other promotional tools, some of which are seasonally based.
Several companies plan to go pink this fall for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, which falls in the heart of Peruvian onion season.
“During the month of October, our entire line of RealSweet packaging will go pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” Shuman said.
“Our consumer bags, boxes, bins and even PLU’s will bear the familiar pink colors and ribbon of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure campaign,” he said.
Shuman Produce also plans to donate to support the cause.
“We donate a certain amount of money to breast cancer research from every carton we sell,” Ralph Diaz, import and export sales manager for DeBruyn Produce.
Delbert Bland, owner of Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga., says this is their biggest promotion for the fall.
The company has focused all its marketing efforts on this for the fall because it gives them the opportunity to be involved, Bland said.
“It’s a good opportunity for a good cause,” he said.
Other fall and winter promotions are centered on the seasons themselves.
“Fall and winter are truly great cooking seasons, providing the perfect time to offer many promotions,” said Marty Kamer, vice president of Keystone Fruit Marketing, Inc., Greencastle, Pa.
The company plans several promotions and displays to feature their onions as fitting well with tailgating, holiday cooking and slow-cooker meals, all perfect this time of year, Kamer said.
Because of this, it’s a good time for in-store promotions and displays, he said.