As Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, prepared for the Produce Marketing
Association's Fresh Summit convention, the company was coming off one of
its finer Vidalia, GA, onion seasons ever and was well into its fall program
featuring Peruvian sweet onions, "Empire Sweets" from New York state and
sweet onions from Utah.
“It’s going real well,” Michael Hively, chief financial officer of Bland Farms, told
The Produce News Oct. 4. “Between the three locations, I think we can provide
the customer base with what they’re looking for when it comes to a sweet
onion. All three programs are going really well.”
Mr. Hively added, “The Peruvian season will run up through the middle of
January, the New York sweets will run for another month, then we’ll be in
storage onions through the end of December. The western program will run
From there, Bland Farms will begin its spring program of sweet onions from
Mexico and south Texas until production begins again on Vidalias in April.
Meanwhile, the company’s still-new cross-dock facility in Donna, TX, has
done well enough that Bland just announced plans for expansion. The $6
million facility opened in 2008 and is already at capacity.
“We’ve decided to do another expansion — we’re adding three more coolers
and spending another $2 million to expand it some more,” Mr. Hively said.
“Because of where it is located, that facility was built specifically for a cross-
dock operation for other people — we’ll run onions through there but not
pack onions from there. When we bring onions from Mexico, we will use that
location for cross-docking.”
After a soft start to the Vidalia season had just passed, Bland was pleasantly
surprised by a turnaround in the weather that resulted in a bumper crop of
medium onions — perfect for a summer promotional partnership with the
Hollywood film “Shrek Forever After.” The result was a banner year for Bland’s
“If you’d asked somebody before harvest how bad the crop was going be off,
we’d have probably told you 35-40 percent,” said Richard Pazderski, director
of sales for Bland Farms. And while production was down due to early weather
losses, the company actually made up ground because “the quality was so
good we didn’t lose as much on packout as normal. It’s been a great season
for us, great quality, great volume — I’d like to have a season like this every
year,” Mr. Pazderski said.
Bland will be exhibiting in the Georgia Pavilion at Fresh Summit, this year with
a large, 30-by-40 booth and a private conference room.
Bland Farms ships sweet onions — including about one-third of the total
Vidalia onion crop — around the world year-round from multiple locations.
The company is among the larger grower-packer-shippers of sweet onions in