Shuman attributes the Vidalia industry’s expansion to seed companies releasing improved varieties.
“The popularity of the granex sweet onion variety has really grown in the past few years,” he said.
“It continues to grow and drive the growth of the onion category. Sweet onions are the category driver when it comes to the overall growth of the onion category.”
Derek Rodgers, director of sales for Sweet Onion Trading Co., Melbourne, Fla., said the availability of offshore onions helps consumption.
“It feels like there are a lot of high quality sweet onions available year-round that are very comparable to the Vidalia,” he said.
“It’s very hard to get the Vidalia name out of peoples’ heads.”
Walt Dasher, co-owner of G&R Farms, Glennville, said the sizes of packs shoppers put in their shopping carts shows the type of onions consumers prefer.
“Years ago, a 10-pound bag used to be a hot item that would sell very well,” he said.
“Retail customers tell me their customers tell them those big bags have too many onions, even though they may merchandise them at a good price.
“Consumers are shopping more often so they can by the 1-, 2-, 3- or 5-pound bags. One size bag works better for certain regions of the country and it depends on the demographics of the store.”