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Gills Onions to be featured on the Science Channel

by | December 09, 2009
OXNARD, CA -- The world's largest fresh-cut onion processing plant is the topic of a "How It's Made" segment appearing 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, on Discovery's Science Channel (check local listings to confirm the time). The "How It's Made" series presents behind-the-scenes views of interesting and unusual manufacturing processes from around the world.

Gills Onions' "How It's Made" segment provides a unique, inside view of how fresh-cut onions are readied for market. In the 1980s, farming brothers Steve and David Gill were asked by La Victoria, a jarred salsa manufacturer, to provide diced onions for its products. Before then, the only way to wash, skin, slice and dice onions was by hand in the kitchen. Steve and David Gill had to figure out how to deliver fresh-cut onions.

"Nobody knew anything about processing onions when we started, and learning how to took a long time," Steve Gill said in a Dec. 7 press release. After several years of trial and error, the Gills developed proprietary equipment and processes to peel, dice and slice onions and ship them in small and large packages all over the country to supermarkets, retailers, restaurants, institutional foodservices and other food processors. Today, onions from the company "are found in everything from salsa to spaghetti sauce" and in fast-food chains around the nation. We also have our Gills' onions available nationally to consumers in the fresh produce section of their supermarkets," Mr. Gill added in the release.

A four-person film crew shot Gills' fresh-cut onion process, people and facility. "The professionalism and experience of the 'How It's Made film crew, with over 600 segments under their belts, was evident in how they dove right in and worked from early morning until late in the evening to cover our facility," Nikki Rodoni, Gills Onions director of sustainability, said in the release. "It's amazing how a 12-hour day of filming is edited down to a four- minute, 40-second segment while accurately depicting all our processes in enough detail to tell the story."

The completed video plant tour reveals workers overseeing the many steps and specialized machinery required to skin, dice or slice onions, keep them refrigerated for freshness, and safely prepare them to ship to market for consumption. "We're very excited about the final production and the upcoming broadcast this month on the Science Channel," Ms. Rodoni added. "The video really shows how the Gills apply technology and innovation to develop solutions that created a whole new segment in the fresh produce industry."