Committee cooks up contests

08/17/2012 12:38:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

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.”

“The phrase was coined by the NFL as a way to appeal to women and families that support the NFL but don’t have the opportunity to be at the game. We’re using that phrase as a way to encourage people to grill, and utilize onions of course, while they are watching the game at home,” Jones said.

Consumers also have chances to win prizes as part of this promotion by entering an online drawing by registering online.

“The cool thing is that when consumers enter online, they will also enter the retailer’s info when they register so the retailers can win the same prize the consumer winds,” Jones said.

Each week, the committee plans to give away a Weber cookbook, and there will be a monthly drawing for a grill each month.

The committee also plans to host giveaways on its Facebook page.

“There will be even more prizes given away there,” Jones said. “We’re going to be doing random drawings daily for a Weber cookbook and we’ll also be drawing weekly for a Weber charcoal grill.”

Consumers can also request free Weber recipe cards online at www.usaonions.com.

“We hope to have them available until Super Bowl Sunday, Jones said.

“Our industry and our area have never been as jazzed about a promotion program as this one,” Jones said of the partnership with Weber.



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