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The Vidalia onion industry is planning for an aggressive promotional season, said Bob Stafford, interim director of the Vidalia Onion Committee in Vidalia, Ga.

He said the committee has signed public-relations agency Porter Novelli’s Atlanta office to help promote the crop.

The committee also is working with the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program for some cross-promotions, Stafford said.

“We’re going to try to extend our promotions,” he said.

The committee also is redesigning its website, vidaliaonion.org, with Porter Novelli’s help, Stafford said.

The committee is reaching out to chefs as well as retailers, he said.
There’s also a concerted effort to reach out to younger consumers, Stafford said.

“We’ve been chasing millennials, getting them used to using our onions,” he said.

Individual suppliers have their own plans, as well.

Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms is working on a couple of promotions this year, said Delbert Bland, president.

“We’ve always crossed with our condiment side of the business, but we’ve got a new promotion we’re doing with a sandwich company — mayonnaise, lunch meat and onions and you buy all three and get a pretty big discount,” he said. 

It’s important to work with promotional partners, said Walt Dasher, co-owner of G&R Farms in Glennville.

“We have a multitude of items which help customers succeed in promotions,” he said.

G&R’s Growing America’s Farmers scholarship-based program, designed to bring a new generation of growers into the business, is “the driving force” behind many retail promotions, Dasher said. 

“The partnership we have with the National FFA Organization has truly changed the lives of so many kids wanting to enter production agriculture and given the younger generation a sense of hope in knowing that so many retailers/customers truly care about the American farmer and the future of this industry,” Dasher said. 

Vidalia season creates a promotional “excitement” all its own, said Lauren Dees, sales and marketing manager with Lake Park, Ga.-based grower-shipper Generation Farms.

“Easter is late this year. You always see a big push around Easter and sales look good, and near Memorial Day there’s another big push as people start grilling outside.”

Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing, a division of Progressive Produce LLC, has numerous “customer-specific” promotions planned, said Mike Blume, sales and marketing director.

Promotions heavily target the consumer, displaying tips on how to use onions to include recipes when possible, Blume said.

Keystone also has in-store demos with its chef, Dave Munson, in which “shoppers are selected to participate, introducing new recipes — emphasizing quality, flavor, and nutrition,” he said. 

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