Even though many of the onions grown in the Idaho and eastern Oregon area are shipped elsewhere in the country, local demand is still important to the industry.
“Local sales are an exciting market, and most major retailers try and buy local when they can,” said Shay Myers, general manager of Owyhee Produce, Nyssa, Ore.
Still, Myers said the trend toward local onions isn’t as important as the demand from across the country.
“Local isn’t our biggest strength, but people do tend to buy local when they can. Before, it might not have mattered, but now many of the retailers around here try to buy onions from their own state,” he said.
Jon Watson, president of J.C. Watson Co., Parma, Idaho, said the local demand is growing, in part because the local region is growing.
“The Boise Valley is really growing quite a bit, and they are good supporters of the deal,” he said.
One way local consumers can get involved with the onion season is by attending the annual onion festival in August.
Sherise Jones, marketing director of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee, Parma, Idaho, said local consumers help promote the industry.
“Holding the festival creates ambassadors for the Idaho and eastern Oregon onion industry, and those ambassadors help us deliver our message worldwide,” Jones said.
This year’s event was Aug. 8. Activities included an onion cooking contest, onion decorating contests for kids, onion demonstrations and other onion-related activities.