Bland Farms Discusses Sweet Onion Market and Upcoming Vidalia Season
- by Jordan Okumura
GLENNVILLE, GA - In this industry, it is all about the layers—and if you are Bland Farms, those layers lie in the many advantages and benefits of a premium sweet onion program. Pun intended. The category continues to distinguish itself as a standout competitor at the retail onion destination, and with partners like Bland Farms, the opportunity to drive traffic into the fresh produce department is more advantageous now than ever.
“We are currently growing in Vidalia, Georgia, while harvesting from Mexico and shipping from Peru and Mexico both,” Chief Operations Officer Troy Bland shares with me. “The crop is looking really good even though it has been a wet growing season for the Vidalia crop so far.”
Troy adds that Industry-wide, Vidalia acreage is going to be down this year.
“It is about 500 acres less than it was last year—which was already down—so for the first time in 20 years, the Vidalia region will have less than 9,000 acres total,” he reflects.
Currently, there are plenty of onions entering the market from many different regions, he adds, but later on this spring and summer, it could be a situation where demand is greater than supply.
“We are very excited about our crop as well as some of the promotions that we have in store for the upcoming Vidalia season. We believe and hope that these promotions will create a tremendous amount of buzz at the retail level for Bland Farms Vidalia Sweet Onions,” Troy says. “This Vidalia season, Bland Farms is partnering with Paramount Pictures and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, which will assist in generating excitement for the company and its categories.”
Bland Farms will have dynamic point-of-sale merchandising displays, high-impact themed package designs, national press and ad campaigns, recipe tear pads featuring SpongeBob and Krabby Patty-inspired dishes, and social media support. To help get the retailers excited, Bland Farms is also running a national retailer display contest where Produce Managers can submit images of their creative SpongeBob/Vidalia onion in-store displays for the chance to win multiple prizes totaling $10,000.
“To get consumers involved, we have a consumer sweepstakes where consumers will have a chance to win multiple prizes including a grand prize trip to Paramount Pictures for a family of four. Finally, we will have a scavenger hunt for kids—and adults, too—to find the Vidalia PLU stickers that have Gary the snail on them,” Troy expresses, touting a move that will help draw consumers of all ages into the produce department. “This goes along with the theme of the movie where SpongeBob is trying to find his friend Gary who has been ‘snailnapped.’ When they find the Gary PLU, they post a picture to our social media pages for a chance to win weekly prizes! This promotion, as a whole, will help produce departments grow sales because kids are going to want the SpongeBob Vidalia onions, blossom sauce, and batter mix.”
It’s exciting times for the sweet onion category and upcoming Vidalia Onion programs, with Bland Farms planning to be at the forefront of the conversation to help retail partners tap into the benefits to come.