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In anticipation of onion sales ramping up for the 2010 holiday season, Nancy Carter, owner of Parma, ID-based Savory Sweet LLC, said her sales and marketing company has seen its biggest gains this year in retail.

Ms. Carter, who launched Savory Sweet in April 2010, has more than 25 years' experience in produce sales. For the past decade she has focused on Spanish Sweets from Idaho-Eastern Oregon’s Treasure Valley. She noted the goal of Savory Sweet is to "align good customers with good growers and packers."

While Ms. Carter has contacts in Washington state and Utah, she said 90 percent of the onions she’s moving now are grown in the IEO region.

“I really want to specialize in the Spanish Sweets, and I have very good relationships with the shippers here,” she said.

Looking at overall onion movement of 2010, the veteran salesperson said that “ambitious efforts to forge a strong market have fallen upon the sharp sword of our weak economy,” but she added that the onion industry was looking forward to the “brisk days of holiday business, which in spite of what we wish, doesn’t really happen until we get closer to Christmas.”

Ms. Carter added that foodservice sales are steady, but she said, “For Savory Sweet, the biggest gains have been in retail. I am pleasantly surprised by the steady trade I am doing these days with customers who are buying strictly for retail. My retail accounts are by far the most steady repeat buyers.”

The soft economy has resulted in more home cooking, and Ms. Carter said certain consumer trends are more evident as a result.

“The overall use of red onions seems to have steadily grown,” she said. “It’s because of the 'pop’ on the plate. Chefs or home cooks want to see that color. Definitely reds are being used more at foodservice, and consumers themselves are increasingly savvy when they shop, looking for the single- center red onion.”

She went on to say that she’s seen new demand for colossal reds, and Ms. Carter said certain high-end retailers present the globes peeled “to enhance the bright color and shine.”