Walla Walla promotions focus on awarenessThe retail focus for Walla Walla sweets is based mainly on promoting local excitement about the onions.

“From a marketing standpoint, we’re running a consumer awareness campaign on the West Coast that will involve all sorts of media and all sorts of different stuff,” said Dan Borer, general manager of Keystone Fruit Marketing, Walla, Walla, Wash.

Keystone has been doing a similar promotion for the past few seasons and is excited about this year’s campaign, Borer said.

“The basis is making consumers aware that we’ll be in the marketplace with these onions and that they can pick them up readily at local retailers,” he said.

The marketing campaign also features the history of the Walla Walla sweet onion program.

“It’s the original sweet onion in the U.S., and it’s known as one of the sweetest grown,” Borer said.

Others agree that letting local consumers know about Walla Walla sweets is key to marketing success.

The biggest focus is the regional strength and making sure retailers have sweet onions displayed in a clear way, differentiated from other onions, which can create excitement that the Walla Walla season has begun, a spokesman for Brooks, Ore.-based Curry & Co. said.

Making sure consumers are aware when the Walla Walla season begins is important, since the season doesn’t last long.

Kathy Fry-Trommald, executive director of the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, said the season isn’t really that short compared to other crops.

“The season lasts 10 or 12 weeks, so it isn’t that short, but people tend to compare our season with winter storage crops that last for months,” Fry-Trommald said.

She said the bigger issue is that the shelf life is so short.

“The biggest problem is that these don’t have a long shelf life, but with a 95% water content, that’s the way it has to be,” she said.