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Curry sweet onion program keeps consumers satisfied

Consumers continue to clamor for sweet onions throughout the year. And Curry & Co., headquartered in Brooks, OR, is happy to keep them stocked and satisfied.

“Curry & Company has continued to see the benefits of providing certified sweet onions to our retailers,” President Matt Curry told The Produce News Aug. 5. “It’s important that our customers and the consumers know they’re getting a truly sweet onion each and every time.”

According to Mr. Curry, sweet onion sales are consistent throughout the year. “We do find strong regional pull for the respected sweet onion in each particular area. Our Vidalia ‘Sweetheart’ onions have strong local sales in the Southeast, and our Walla Walla ‘Double Sweets’ experience strong sales in the Northwest. Each new season can bring some seasonal excitement to the category, and then we hope the great flavor and consistency keeps consumers coming back for more.”

Mr. Curry said that the Vidalia program started later than normal due to a cold spring. “But we hit the ground running with strong consumer demand from the beginning,” he commented. “Movement was particularly strong on the East Coast, and we were pleased with our market development in some different regions.”

The Walla Walla Sweet crop also experienced a slight delay due to weather. But product quality has been exceptional this season. “We’ve had multiple lots of our Walla Walla ‘Double Sweet’ onions qualify as Extra Certified Sweet which is the best rating you can get for a sweet onion,” Mr. Curry said.

As of Aug. 1, the company was still moving Vidalias and Walla Walla Sweets. “Vidalia is rapidly winding down, and Walla Wallas wind down through the month as well,” he said on Aug. 5. “They’ve both been strong seasons.”

Sweet onions grown in the Pacific Northwest are progressing nicely. “Other than late starts, the weather has been cooperating on onions once we get started,” Mr. Curry said. “We’ve had great flavor throughout the season in the Northwest, and we feel it’s important to certify our onions as sweet.”

Interest in Hermiston Sweets and Hermiston SweetReds is growing. Hermiston Sweets are available from mid-August through December. Hermiston SweetReds start in October and are available into March. “We continue to develop these programs and are looking forward to driving sales with existing customers and building sales and relationships with new customers,” Mr. Curry commented. “Each year, these programs get stronger, and we see this trend continuing as we partner with our customers to maximize their sweet onion sales.” Mr. Curry said the company continues to help its retail partners educate their consumers about the benefits of sweet onions. “We’ve developed point-of-sale cards and created some contests which have led to increased sales,” he noted.

Curry & Co. will begin its Peruvian “Sweet Peaks” season in late August, with volume available into January. Mr. Curry said he is anticipating another quality crop in 2010. “Due to the nature of imports, we work closely with our retailers to make sure we have the right supplies and volumes,” he commented.

“Patagonia Sweet” volume out of Chile will be available beginning in January.

Curry & Co. markets sweet onions in high graphics packing to increase sales. “The two-pound sweet onion bag continues to provide a nice value option,” Mr. Curry said, adding that bag sales have been particularly strong in a troublesome economy. “Our Hermiston Sweet, Hermiston SweetRed and ‘Sweet Peaks’ boxes all make for nice waterfall displays to call attention to your sweet onion displays.”