When it comes to providing retail customers with the ability to lock in year-round supplies of sweet onions with a single supplier, Peru plays an important role.
“Peruvian sweet onions offer retailers one of the longest, most consistent seasons of any sweet onion in the industry,” said John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce, which began its Peru program in 1998.
“Peru can provide the same variety, flavor profile and quality for the consumer for over six months of the year.
“This consistency, coupled with a premium product, brings stability to the category and drives sales,” Shuman said.
As with other importers, the Peruvian crop allows Keystone Fruit Marketing, Greencastle, Pa., to keep retailers stocked with a specific brand throughout the year. Keystone Fruit introduced the Mayan Sweets brand, at first sourcing from Panama, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
That program was relocated to Peru in 1994 after the company researched optimal coastal growing regions, Keystone Fruit president Marty Kamer said.
“For a period of time, the available supply of authentic sweet onions was lagging behind the demand,” Kamer said. “Today, a reliable steady supply of year-round authentic sweet onions is available to meet increasing demand.”
Regardless of a product’s origin, it has to be of consistently high quality.
“(Peru) really helps us provide a consistent operation for our entire staff as well,” said Walt Dasher, co-owner of Glennville, Ga.-based G&R Farms.
“Everyone at GR lives and breathes onions year-round, so it helps us eliminate mistakes and really dial our operation details in very well.”