At one time, Telesis Onion Co. Inc. in Five Points, CA, grew and packed onions predominantly for the foodservice sector. But retail business has become increasingly important for the company in recent years, according to salesman Mike Smythe.
“Telesis is still mostly a foodservice company,” he said. “We mostly supply onions to our foodservice customers. But as time goes by,” more and more retailers want cartons and consumer bags.
In order to meet that demand and increase its production of consumer bags, Telesis has purchased a new Volm bagging machine, he said. Along with that, “we have added an aspiration unit to the whole shed to make a cleaner bag, which is new for Telesis onion. Basically, before any onion goes in the bag, there is a vacuum that cleans up all the lose sheathing.” That results in “a cleaner-looking bag.” Watching the aspiration unit work is “pretty amazing,” he added.
Telesis has also increased its stickering capacity. Now “as onions go across the line, we are able to sticker twice as many onions as we did last year,” Smythe said. That is to keep up with a trend in the industry of “more people wanting stickered onions.”
Consumer bags constitute a grown area for Telesis, he said, “and we added a new line to keep up with demand.”
The bags are packed in the company’s “Telesis” label, but in addition, “we pack for Green Giant. We do a lot of bags for Green Giant out of our facility,” he said.
The company grows and packs red, white and yellow onions, but “still no sweets,” Smythe said, although “we’ve tried them before.” The company has increased its production of red onions this year, “which is a good thing for our foodservice business.” Overall, however, the company’s acreage is down about 5 percent from last year.
The harvest typically runs from around June 1 to Aug. 31, and “we pretty much have reds, yellows and whites on a daily basis from the time we start to the time we finish,” Smythe said. This year the harvest started about a week earlier than normal. Yields and sizes have been running fairly normal.
Telesis has a cold-storage facility and pre-cools the onions before they go on the truck, he said.
The company’s operation is Primus GFSI food-safety certified, he added.