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Utah Onions bringing it’s ‘Gerrald’s Vidalia Sweets’ to the table early with good size

The “Gerrald’s Vidalia Sweets” label has had a sterling reputation in the industry for four decades. Utah Onions, Inc. of Syracuse, UT, has been equally well-known in the Western trade for just as long. Now those two well-known names have partnered to bring Vidalias and a variety of other Georgia-grown onions to market for the 2013 season.

“We’ll be marketing ‘Gerrald’s Vidalia Sweets’ and we chose that brand to market through the partnership because of the heritage and legacy that Gerrald’s possesses in the Vidalia onion market,” said Utah Onions Director of Business Development Richard Pazderski. “If we can couple that with Utah Onions’ logistics network we can bring more visibility to the ‘Gerrald’s’ label and we can stand solidly on that. We have a strong presence with our Western crop and how we move into retail channels and we want to bring that same presence to the Vidalia side for a brand that is already well recognized.”

Utah-1Richard Pazderski (left) and Shawn Hartley (right) of Utah Onions, Inc. with Georgia Watermelon Queen Carol Ann Mitchell at the 2013 Southern Exposure expo in Orlando, FL, in February. (Photo by Chip Carter)The deal created a blended team of experienced sales professionals and will utilize Gerrald’s Farms’ infrastructure, including a state-of-the-art packing facility, drying rooms, 180,000 bushel storage capacity, an advanced food-safety focus and a vast array of innovative consumer packaging capabilities.

Utah has 400 acres of Vidalias, another 100 of Georgia Grown red onions that share some of their yellow cousins’ characteristics and about 35 acres of white onions.

“It looks like we’re going to have a solid market and a good crop,” Mr. Pazderski said in mid-March. The deal will also come off early. Gerrald’s fields are usually a few days behind some Vidalia growers because they are located in the northern part of the official Vidalia growing region.

That also meant recent soaking rains that dumped 14-17 inches across most of the Vidalia region in a two-week span were kinder to the Gerrald’s crop.

“We had seven to eight inches, which was beneficial rainfall for us, we didn’t have any trouble getting back in the fields after it was done and were able to get back to business as usual,” Mr. Pazderski said. “Typically we would be a week behind everybody else because we’re in the northern zone but I think we’re going to be one of the earlier shippers coming off. We’ve got good size on the crop and jumbos in the field right now. A lot of people are planning to ship by April 10 or 12 and typically we’d be April 15-17 but I’m confident we’ll be shipping by April 5.”

Meanwhile, “White onions are a pilot program for us,” Mr. Pazderski said. “The red onion is going to offer a nice logistics advantage as opposed to Western storage reds to some of the receivers on the Eastern Seaboard.”

To sweeten the deal further, Utah can pass freight savings along to East Coast customers “giving the receiver the benefit of better cost and giving us the benefit of a better profit margin. It’s the win-win situation you look for,” Mr. Pazderski said.