Sweet onions come in a variety of colors from a range of growing districts, but none approach the Vidalia product, growers and marketers from the Vidalia district say.
However, they do acknowledge the market is getting more competitive.
“The only way we can compete with them is we’ve got the best onions,” said Bob Stafford, interim director of the Vidalia, Ga.-based Vidalia Onion Committee.
Several years ago, the committee set out to demonstrate its product’s superiority over the competition by working with a taste panel at the University of Georgia, Stafford said.
The only way we can compete with them is we’ve got the best onions.
“We’re putting out a better-flavored onions now, with more flavor and better shelf life, and we’ve got the statistics to back it up,” he said.
The consumer is the ultimate judge, though, Stafford said.
“That’s what the final test is,” he said. “No onion out there can have the flavor and texture that we’ve got.”
This year, the committee changed its logo to more effectively call attention to the product’s unique qualities, Stafford said.
“We’re going by using the phrase ‘only Vidalia,’” Stafford said.
Competition from the outside is nothing new, said Delbert Bland, president of Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC.
“It’s like it’s always been. Somebody trying to knock you off is kind of flattering,” he said. “We still have a very high demand when the market opens.”
There’s no cause for worry about competitors, said Kevin Hendrix, vice president of Metter, Ga.-based Hendrix Produce Inc.
“The Vidalia name still carries a lot of weight with the consumer, so, you know, that helps,” he said.
Walt Dasher, co-owner of Glennville-based G&R Farms, agreed.
“There’s nothing else that even comes close to the overall taste and performance of a Vidalia,” he said.