WEISER, ID — Where some food production industries will talk about keeping the quality of food they grow or handle uppermost in importance, shippers in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Treasure Valley put their mouth where their money is.
Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, is a perfect example of walking the talk, and General Manager Herb Haun explained the reason his company maintains the “All-American Winners” attitude about their onions.
“We ourselves consume what we grow,” Mr. Haun said. “We feed our onions to our kids and our grandkids.”
Consuming fresh produce is part of the IEO lifestyle, and keeping current with nutritional studies and research is also important.
Mr. Haun said, “We’re hearing more and more about health and nutrition, and at the same time we are hearing about obesity. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing for salad bars in every school, and we believe it’s a much needed program.”
He said that food-safety protocol continues to evolve along with demands from buyers.
And to stay ahead of the curve, Haun Packing recently hired an individual to head up its food-safety program. Lora Molina oversees the in-house program at the shed and farm levels for Haun, bringing both HACCP and food-safety training with her.
“On the farm we’re using Primus auditing through the University of Idaho,” Mr. Haun said. “We are GAP- and GHP-certified through the USDA, and in the shed we are also certified.”
Joe Snell is production manager at the shed, and Fred Haun is the primary grower for Haun Packing, although the shed does pack for other growers as well.
Herb Haun said the integrity of the company is longstanding, and he sees it continuing into new generations.
“My nephew, Brent, works with my brother, Fred, on the growing end,” Mr. Haun said.
“Basically we’re still the family farm,” he said, explaining that the connection to the product is key to quality.
“Every package we produce is traced back not only to Haun Packing but to the specific field. The last thing I would want to do is make someone sick,” he said.
“When food safety first came up, it was something we had to do. Now we embrace it with open arms, and it’s something we really want to do. Our workers have also bought into it,” Mr. Haun said.
In 2010 the farm implemented more drip irrigation and heavier planting to produce a more uniform onion of medium size for an increase in retail sales.
The second-generation onion man said the nation’s economy and less disposable income with less dining out have brought about that retail jump.
Noting that change is inevitable in the produce industry and that food safety takes on more importance daily, Mr. Haun said his company works to stay current with information and protocol.
“We’re not sure where it’s headed,” he said of regulations and buyer demands. “It’s still in process.”
But he said he, his family and everyone connected with Haun Packing is dedicated to providing quality onions.
“We like to know what we eat is safe, too,” he said.