Using a multi-tiered marketing program, Curry & Co. is able to capitalize on the best qualities of Vidalia sweet onions and generate marketplace buzz.
“In Georgia and the Southeast, we focus on the local and regional aspect of Vidalia sweet onions. It is one of the best known brands in the Southeast, and consumers can’t wait for their Vidalia sweet onions to start,” President Matt Curry told The Produce News on March 11.
“Throughout the rest of the country and in Canada, Vidalia sweets are also a very recognized brand to many people,” he continued. “They are ‘the’ sweet onion. We work with partners in these regions to announce the start of the season, the peak of the season and when they are winding down. We are creating seasonal excitement for Vidalia onions. Retailers appreciate this as well, since sweet onions are typically a larger ring at the register, and they want to have as many sweet onion customers as possible.”
The company is located in Brooks, OR, and is a year-round marketer of sweet onions. Product is sourced both domestically and abroad.
Mr. Curry said weather in the growing region has been something of a wildcard in 2013. “We had a very dry, warm beginning in January. Then we faced a cold, wet February, and March started that way as well,” he stated. “There continues to be intermittent rain in the forecast throughout the midpoint of March. These wet conditions could push the crop back a little bit, although if we get some nicer weather it speeds things right back up.”
Despite these conditions, he said Curry & Co. will have strong supplies of Vidalias for bulk and bagged promotions throughout the season. “The Vidalia sweet crop is looking healthy, and we feel we are heading toward a normal size profile,” he added.
At this time, Mr. Curry expects marketing will begin around April 10 and run through August. “We expect our overall Vidalia onion crop to be up by as much as 20 percent this season as long as Mother Nature cooperates,” he noted. “We are packing at a new facility and have upgraded the onion packing line to include increased bagging capacity for all of our consumer packs. We have increased storage capacity and state-of-the-art drying and curing systems to get the best quality Vidalia sweet onion to the consumer.”
Curry & Co. will market Vidalias in its new branded box featuring a bold, red barn background imprinted with the company’s logo and illustration of Vidalia sweet onions. “Our bags will follow the same new design,” Mr. Curry stated. The branded design was introduced at the 2012 Fresh Summit.
Marketplace interest in the sweet onion category continues to flourish, and Vidalias set the pace. “Consumers and retailers continue to look for sweet onions they can ‘trust,’ and Vidalia sweets are the leader in this category,” Mr. Curry commented.
“I think both retailers and consumers know that Vidalia sweet onions are carefully regulated in a limited growing region, and it makes Vidalia onions the most consistently sweet onion you’ll find each and every year,” he added.
Mr. Curry said consumers are becoming savvier when it comes to sweet onions. “The sweet onion category continues to grow as more and more consumers continue to recognize the difference in flavor between sweet onions and your standard yellow onion,” he stated, adding that the opportunity still exists to educate consumers with some basic marketing tips.
“Make sure to make it obvious to your consumers that you have sweet onions available,” he said. “Set sweet onions apart from standard yellow onions. If you don’t, you can have some confusion. Alert consumers that the ‘No. 1 Sweet Onion, Vidalia sweet onions, are available now’.” Mr. Curry also said retailers should also remind consumers about the seasonality of Vidalias and announce both the peak of season and final chances to make purchases as the season winds down.
“Don’t forget to utilize the health benefits of sweet onions as well,” he added. “They are low calorie, fat-free, cholesterol free and an excellent source of vitamin C.”