Onion grower-shippers say choice is a major part of their program, including a range of sizes and varieties and, to some extent, organics.
“There is such a variety of quality sweet Spanish onion varieties that is is difficult to state what’s ‘hot’ or on-trend,” said Herb Haun, owner of Weister, Idaho-based Haun Packing and promotion committee chairman of the Parma, Idaho-based Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee.
“Buyers are always looking for single-centered onions, and many varieties grown in the area yield large volumes of single centers.”
Some shippers promote certain varieties; others emphasize quality, size or other attributes, including — to a limited extent — organics, Haun said.
Some shippers ensure they have plenty of the most popular varieties on hand.
“The trusted storage varieties continue to be customer favorites — legends, delgado and redwing,” said Mackenzie Mills, account manager with Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE Inc.
Some are always looking for new varieties to add to their mix.
“We are always screening new varieties for what fits our program and agronomic conditions,” said Cameron Skeen, partner at Ontario, Ore.-based Baker & Murakami Produce Co.
Growers in the network of Parma, Idaho-based Snake River Produce Co. LLC provide a mix of varieties of yellow, red, white and sweet onions, said Tiffany Cruickshank, sales and marketing representative at Snake River Produce.
“Our Snake River Sweet 40-pound stickered box containing a more mild, but still globe-shaped onion, has been gaining popularity, and I see that continuing with the higher retail demand,” Cruickshank said.
“We also plan to offer sweet onions in smaller consumer packages this season.”
Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Eagle Eye Produce plans this year to largely stick with the same varieties as it has in previous years, said Dallin Klingler, marketing/communications manager.
“However, we are always running trials on new varieties, and we have seen some promising results this year with those trials on a larger scale,” he said.
Eagle Eye’s varieties produce consistent onions, use fewer inputs, and offer higher yields per-acre than ever before, Klingler said.
“We’re excited to have a good supply of yellows, reds, whites, and shallots if needed once harvest begins in early August,” he said.