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Bland Farms launches new U.S. sweet onion in River Point partnership

by Chip Carter | December 06, 2010
Over the past decade Bland Farms LLC has expanded from its Glennville, GA, headquarters to locations throughout the world, adding new sweet onion- growing areas to its network as it has become one of the nation's larger purveyors of Vidalia onions and one of the larger in the onion category.

This year, that product line has been expanded with the addition of the EverMild, a sweet onion from the Pacific Northwest. Bland partnered with River Point Farms in Hermiston, OR, to add the newly developed onion to its lineup.

"We’re in a joint venture with River Point for the EverMilds. This is a long-day sweet onion we’ve been looking into for some time," said Delbert Bland, sole proprietor of Bland Farms. “Instead of us going out there to try and reinvent the wheel growing this type onion, we went to … River Point and joined forces with them on a joint venture to do this sweet onion. It’s a dynamite deal.”

EverMilds are the first and only U.S.-produced winter sweet onion, developed by Monsanto over the last 15 years and coming to the market for the first time last winter. The variety was developed by traditional plant breeding methods and is not genetically engineered.

In addition to the EverMild, Bland is packing and shipping onions from production areas around the globe. In mid-November, Bland was packing from four locations, wrapping up “the very, very tail end” of its 'Empire Sweets’ New York deal; in the middle of its Western onion deal from Idaho; and in full swing on its Peruvian sweets deal, which started in August and will go through the latter part of February, Mr. Bland said.

The Peruvian deal is exceptional this year, Mr. Bland said. “They’re excellent, the quality is beautiful and things are going very well for them.”

Three decades ago, Delbert Bland convinced his late father Raymond Bland to branch out from tomato farming to sweet onions. Mr. Bland Sr. was reluctant — he had planted a sweet onion crop once before with little success. But Delbert Bland brought modern approaches to moving the product his father grew, including labeling individual onions with a branded PLU sticker and creating a mail-order business. Within a few years, Vidalia onions were world-famous.

Since then, Bland Farms has progressively expanded its reach globally, with operations in Georgia, Florida, Utah, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Texas, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile and Guatemala, and now moves sweet onions from around the world 12 months a year.