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Wada Farms Marketing introduces new premium retail onion pack

Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC in Idaho Falls, ID, has recently introduced a new premium retail onion pack which it calls the Medallions Sleeve Pack, according to Chris Wada, director of marketing.

The unique pack is the first retail onion package of the particular style in the market, and currently the onion packer who co-packs the product for Wada Farms is "the only [packer] in the country currently able to even run this style," Mr. Wada said.

Wada-ChrisChris WadaAccording to the Wada Farms website, "this new linear style onion package creates a very uniform retail display either by stacking them to form a pyramid or shown cascading down angled displays. Tighter than traditional mesh netting, it also limits loose skins from making a mess."

The pack style is available in various varieties and sizes of onions. The specifications can be "very versatile and customer specific" to meet customers' needs. The onions that go into the pack are "hand selected" for "very uniform, consistent sizing," Mr. Wada said. While the pack can be used for onions of different sizes, generally, "the process would be more of a premium pack with jumbo size onions."

The sleeves stack uniformly in a display, so they create a neat, clean display in comparison to traditional three-pound bags of onions that can look more like a pile than a stack, Mr. Wada explained.

While there are benefits to the new pack style, "that is not to discount other more traditional onion packs" such as the three-pound bag, which Wada continues to pack, he said. There are times when retailers may "prefer a more competitively priced offering like the three-pound medium onion consumer pack." The new pack style is simply "something different in addition to our various other onion product offerings."

The onions ship from the Idaho-Eastern Oregon area, which gives Wada Farms the ability to combine them with potatoes on a truck or to ship them directly from source. "There are some options there," he said.

On the potato side of the business, Mr. Wada said, "we have had a lot of new products and some new, innovative things to bring to market" in a continuing effort "to offer something new and different to our customers" compared to what is generally available in the industry. Some of those innovations were introduced at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Expo in Anaheim in October.

Along with that, he said, "we have started to promote our 70-year anniversary," which is officially in 2013, and "we are going to try to do some more creative, fun things" in conjunction with the company's 70th anniversary.

"Speaking more specifically," he continued, "Potato Lovers Month is coming up in February," and Wada Farms will be participating in the Idaho Potato Commission's programs in conjunction with that promotion, and the company will be doing some creative things in anticipation of that event.

Some of those will involve "our new 'Idahoan Fresh' label," he said.

"Idahoan" is a well-known brand in processed potatoes. Idahoan Foods is a grower-owned company, with Wada Farms as one of the owners. The company is now using the "Idahoan" label for fresh product as well.

"From Idahoan's "dehydrated center-store retail branded goods" to the new "Idahoan Fresh" offerings, he said, "we are hoping to create some excitement there, geared specifically for Potato Lovers Month," but also through the holidays. The brand was showcased at PMA and will be featured at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game at Bronco Stadium in Boise, sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission. Wada Farms is among the industry's participating co-sponsors.

"We are going to be there. We are going to have our truck there. And we are going to do some promotional things," Mr. Wada said.

The truck to which he referred is a restored 1934 Ford truck. It is "the original truck my Grandpa Frank Wada drove to Idaho in the fall of 1942," he said, and the restoration is part of the company's anniversary celebration and the truck has special hand painted graphics featuring the 70th anniversary of Wada Farms.