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Broker, distributor Jim Hyatt Produce specializes in onions and potatoes

Located in West Sacramento, CA, Jim Hyatt Produce Co. Inc. specializes in “just onions and potatoes,” according to Jon Hyatt, a salesperson with the firm, whose father, James Hyatt, acquired the business in the 1970s from a man for whom he had been working, renamed it, and “switched it over” to exclusively an onion and potato house.

“We broker from shipping point” to customers throughout the country, “and we deliver locally within a hundred-mile radius of Sacramento [CA]“ from a distribution warehouse in West Sacramento, Jon Hyatt said in a June 7 interview with The Produce News.

For both potatoes and onions, “we have growers that we work with through the different seasons through the year,” he said. “We team up with growers in certain regions and work to get the best returns for their crop.” Additionally, the firm works with them to be sure they are packing “what the customers want — and what the customers think they are going to want in the future.”

In its Central California summer onion program, Hyatt Produce handles “all the colors” — reds, yellows and whites — Mr. Hyatt said. “In the summertime … the Italian sweets, the red onions, are very popular because they come back into production. They are not available year-round like the yellow sweets.” Italian sweet red onions are something that California’s “Central Valley is really known for, and they sell well during the summertime.”

Regarding packaging, “we deal in all the different kinds,” he said. “Each customer seems to have his own particular pack,” whether it be 50-pound sacks; 50-pound cartons; 40-pound cartons; 25-pound sacks; or consumer packaging in two, three, five or 10-pound sizes. “Everybody seems to have their little niche on what they like.” For example, “one guy will want a three-pound red and white” and another will want “a five-pound yellow.”

Consumer packaging helps move smaller-sized onions, Mr. Hyatt said.

One trend seems to be an increased interest in cartons rather than sacks “for the ease on down the chain of handling and the fact that onions in a carton don’t get damaged” by forklifts the way onions in sacks can. The cartons also stack nicely and “build better pallets,” he said.