Business Updates: Vidalia 2013 season - The Packer

Business Updates: Vidalia 2013 season

04/02/2013 12:06:00 PM
Coral Beach

VIDALIA, Ga. — A number of Vidalia onion growers and shippers have new staff, packaging and other news for the 2013 vidalia season.

Keystone promotes Sugar Sweet brand

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.


Curry & Co. suggests three Vidalia phases

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.


Gerrald rebrands, redesigns logo

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.


Hendrix Produce hires sales director

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.


Plantation Sweets upgrades equipment

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.


Ray Farms invests in more cooler space

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

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Jean Snead    
Crescent City, FL  |  April, 03, 2013 at 05:24 PM

We purchased some Vidalia onions for the first time about 25 years ago and still think they are the best onions. In the past when our children were growing up we would purchase 2-100 lb. bags each year from a produce stand here in Putnam County. The family drove to GA every week during the season and purchased them directly from Morris Farms. After a few years when we got them they were already rotten in the center. Think they had a problem growing them. Found out about the onions grown in Peru and sold at Sam's Club. As my family and friends will tell you I am famous for my Vidalia Onion Pie which is my original recipe and it has never been published. My pies are known from Maine to Florida by all my family and friends. Every year at Christmas I get request for my onion pie for Christmas breakfast from all my friends and neighbors. So I usually make onion pies year round and have to find the same type of onion that is grown in GA. I try to keep between 10 to 20 lb. in my refrigerator year round. The sweet onions are not the same in my pies only the onions grown in GA or other countries that have learned to duplicate them.

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