( File photo )

The Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion business is defined by color and flavor, grower-shippers say.

Reds, whites, yellows, as well as sweets, are available, suppliers note.

“There’s the sweet, and we have a significant red onion production, and we’ve become better at growing it and having exceptional quality with our red,” said Kay Riley, partner at Parma, Idaho-based Snake River Produce.
Reds are gaining a strong following among foodservice customers, Riley said.

“No question about it; it’s very popular,” he said.

The key is having supplies to fill every order, said Marc Bybee, senior operations/productions manager at Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Eagle Eye Produce.

“We will have yellows, reds and white onions and anticipate having all size profiles available,” Bybee said.
Hailey, Idaho-based ProSource Inc. has “all colors” available, said Corey Griswold, COO.

“We’re always looking to improve red and white varieties,” he said. “Yellow-wise, we’ll run 20 different varieties during packing season.”

The predominant yellow varieties at ProSource are the granaro and vaqero, but other varieties stand out, as well, Griswold said.

“Crockett and joaquin have a tremendous storage life; those have run as late as July with exceptional results,” he said. 

“We grow red bull and red label, which are two of the prettiest ones we put in storage.”

ProSource also can provide sweet onions, Griswold said. 

“We can pack any stickered sweet,” he said. “We do about any pack anyone can come up with,” he said.

White onions will be big sellers this year, said Emily Watson-Libsack, vice president of marketing with Parma-based J.C. Watson Packing Co.

“The white onions will be hot, and I think everybody’s noticing the increase in organics — with all commodities we’re starting to see a big increase in wanting organics in all colors,” she said.

There isn’t anything new on the variety front, and there is “no significant shift” in varieties going on right now, but consumption of reds and whites continues to climb, said Shay Myers, general manager at Parma-based Owyhee Produce.

“Not sure why,” he said. 

“We just know those numbers are trending that way. Foodservice, you’re looking at red onions on a burger; you didn’t see that 10 years ago. Certainly, that’s a contributing factor.” 

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