REIDSVILLE, Ga. — Collaboration permeates most aspects of Shuman Produce Inc., from the interaction between the two brothers who run the company to their relationships with business partners, including retailers and other growers.
The company’s Vidalia onion marketing plan for this season also has key collaborative elements including tie-ins with the Vidalia Onion Committee’s Flavors of Summer campaign and foodie bloggers Chef and The Fatman.
“But all that doesn’t mean we don’t get all tangled up like two old yellow dogs sometimes,” said general manager Mark Shuman, describing how he and company president/older brother John Shuman occasionally resolve differences.
One thing the brothers don’t have trouble agreeing on is the importance of customer service when it comes to providing their RealSweet brand Vidalias to retail partners.
“We do quality, on-time deliveries. Our strength is that we can meet customer expectations,” Mark Shuman said.
John Shuman said the company has a rejection rate of less than 1% for the Vidalia onions it ships.
A significant factor in that low rejection rate are the three grower partners whose Vidalias the Shumans have been marketing for 18 years.
Those growers — Alan Sikes, David Jarriel and James McClain — work with Shuman Produce on a mutually exclusive basis, John Shuman said. Together the four companies grow more than 1,800 acres of Vidalias that Shuman markets.
In addition to the Real-Sweet chefs Erik Holdo and Kevin Jenkins, a.k.a. “Chef and The Fatman,” cooking up video marketing content for use by retailers this season, Shuman Produce is driving further into the realm of social media, said marketing coordinator Adam Brady.
He said customized RealSweet packaging, which includes quick response codes on bags and bins, should help Shuman Produce and retailers connect directly with consumers.
The QR code takes consumers to a mobile website that includes information about Vidalia onions with details from farm to fork, Brady said.