VIDALIA, Ga. — A number of Vidalia onion growers and shippers have new staff, packaging and other news for the 2013 vidalia season.
Anticipating promotable volumes of Sugar Sweet-brand Vidalia onions, Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., staff has designed customized promotions for retail partners.
Keystone is the exclusive sales agent for Cowart Farms, Lyons, Ga., which has about 600 acres of Vidalia onions this year.
Marty Kamer, Keystone partner and sales manager, said more favorable growing conditions this spring, compared to 2012, has him “cautiously optimistic.”
He said Keystone is emphasizing the flavor and nutritional aspects of Vidalia sweet onions with a multi-dimensional approach that includes in-store cooking demonstrations by Keystone’s corporate chef Dave Munson, special signage, bulk bins and a full line of pack sizes and styles.
A new design featuring the Curry & Co. red barn logo is on boxes, bags and bins this season for Vidalia onions from Sweet Vidalia Farms LLC, Collins, Ga.
Matt Curry, president of Brooks, Ore.-based Curry & Co., said a multi-tiered marketing plan is in place for retailers carrying the Vidalia onions.
“Vidalia sweet onions are extremely popular in Georgia and the Southeast, so our Southeast plan is to focus on local and regional promotions during the length of the season,” Curry said.
The first phase emphasizes the beginning of Vidalia onion season. The second phase, when the season is in full swing, encourages consumers to buy Vidalia onions at their peak.
The third phase, at the end of the season, helps retailers remind consumers to buy Vidalias while they can.
“On a national scale, we focus on the seasonality and excitement that retailers can create with Vidalias,” Curry said.
Vidalia onion grower Terry Gerrald has a new name and new logo for his operation for the 2013 season.
Now operating as Gerrald’s Vidalia Sweets Inc., the Statesboro, Ga.-based grower said one reason he removed the word “onions” from the company name and brand logo was so they would more accurately represent what he does.
In addition to growing Vidalia onions, Gerrald said, he grows watermelons.
Utah Onions Inc., Syracuse, Utah, has an interest in his crop and is marketing Gerrald’s onions, he said.
Johnny White is the new director of sales at Hendrix Produce Inc., Metter Ga.
Kevin Hendrix, vice president, said the position is a new one, created because of the company’s growing business.
White joined the full-time staff of about 10 people in the Hendrix Produce office in October. He previously worked at Bland Farms, Glennville, Ga.
Hendrix said he and his father, R.T. Hendrix, who is president of the company, have about 800 acres of Vidalia onions this season.
For 25 years, Ronny Collins has been selling his Vidalia onions under the Plantation Sweets brand.
Operating out of a modern packinghouse less than 50 yards from the house where he was born and raised, Collins continuously upgrades equipment and growing practices as new innovations become proven practices, said Tina Collins, Ronny’s wife and sales director for Plantation Sweets.
In preparation for this season, the couple has installed a new weighing machine on the packing line.
With the addition of new cooler space for this season, Ray Farms Inc., Glennville, Ga., can now hold 80,000 bushels of Vidalia onions in temperature controlled storage.
Danny Ray, president and co-owner, said the new space increased the farm’s storage space by 20,000 bushels.
He and his brother Gary Ray, co-owner of Ray Farms, have about 350 acres of Vidalia onions this season. About 12 acres are organic.
As of late March, the onions had good sizing and were on their way to excellent yields, Ray said.
By staff writer Coral Beach