( Photo courtesy Sincerely Media; Source Unsplash; Graphic by Brooke Park )

Even as they stay home to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are still getting out, if only via their computers and smart phones, and onion marketers are looking to hop on this trend with their social media initiatives.

“We are ramping it up,” said Greg Yielding, chief executive of the Greeley, Colo.-based National Onion Association

“One of our best programs launched right when this (COVID-19 outbreak) started, and it was telling people about the health benefits of onions. We’ve got a whole section on our website about that and links to the studies.”

The association is channeling that message online on its own website, as well as through Facebook, Instagram, advertisements and other modes, with good results so far, Yielding said.

“People come back to the website and get more information,” he said.

Social media is a great tool to engage, build loyalty and connect with consumers when marketing onions, said Tony Huizenga, national sales manager/onion buyer with Friesland, Wis.-based Alsum Farms & Produce.

“Social media allows us to tell a story about the product’s freshness, the farmer, the many uses, nutritional benefits, and adds an element of inspiration for fans,” he said.

He noted, for example, that showing images of onion planting, growing and harvesting connects consumers to how their food is grown and makes its way to grocery store shelves. 

“Particularly in the times of COVID-19, it’s an excellent tool to help educate consumers on the proper method to store onions to help them remain fresh as long as possible,” Huizenga said. 

“Additionally, sharing appetizing recipes that highlight onions’ versatility, nutritional benefits and provides consumers with meal inspiration, as most Americans are eating at home during these times, is a great use of social media.”

Employing social media is “the key to communicating” the benefits of onions to consumers, said Rachel Atkinson-Leach, brand and category manager with Bancroft, Wis.-based Russet Potato Exchange Inc.

That’s particularly true since traditional onion packaging doesn’t provide a lot of space to communicate, she said.

“RPE is currently developing a wide array of marketing tools to communicate directly to our shoppers via our website, social media channels and shopper marketing campaigns,” Atkinson-Leach said. 

“We are even using culinary experts to help us show the many uses for onions in fresh and exciting ways.” 

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