Shuman Produce's John Shuman Discusses Vidalia Onion Crop and Market
- by Geneva Hutcheson
REIDSVILLE, GA - With the RealSweet® Vidalia® onion pack date less than a month away, I spoke with John Shuman, President and CEO of Shuman Produce, on how Georgia’s state vegetable is faring and what retailers can expect to see in the market.
“I can’t wait to get started. Our unique onions are only available late April through early August,” John says. “This year’s pack date has been set for Monday April 20, 2018 by Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Gary Black.”
John continues, “Sweet onions continue to drive overall category sales, and we see this trend continuing because of their versatility of use and sweet, mild flavor. Vidalia onion season is the perfect time to take advantage of outdoor grilling season by scheduling ads during major holidays like Memorial Day and July 4th. We also recommend increasing the size of displays during these ad periods to increase sales.”
Though Shuman Produce faced cold weather in January, with 2-3'' of snow on most of the Vidalia industry, the crop has rebounded nicely. “The 2016 and 2017 Vidalia crop saw record yields. We do not expect that this year. All things considered, we see this year’s crop being back to normal, and we anticipate a successful season,” John says.
John expects the sweet onion market to remain firm and steady this spring and early summer.
“Shuman Produce provides high volume, excellent quality, and customer-preferred, premium sweet onions year-round. This gives our retail partners the opportunity to build brand and category consistency,” John adds.
And to help retailers market Vidalia onions, John recommends joining in on cross promotions like on-package coupon campaigns and supporting organizations such as, Produce for Kids. In addition, programs like The How to Speak Southern campaign aim to educate consumers on Vidalia sweet onions and Shuman’s RealSweet brand.
Shuman Produce purchased a 95,000-square-foot Vidalia onion packing facility and an additional 620 acres of farmland last April. Since that time, they made extensive renovations that include new drying and curing rooms, additional storage capacity, new shipping cooler, a state-of-the-art Compac sorter grading line, and new bagging machines.
“This acquisition expands Shuman Produce’s year-round sweet onion footprint and increases its Vidalia onion acreage under its RealSweet brand. It also improves our ability to pack and ship quality volume in a more efficient way. Shuman Produce and its family of farms grow over 2,000 acres of Vidalia sweet onions. We’ve always felt that we could do more collectively than individually, and this commitment to each other is our strength. The 2018 Vidalia onion season will be our 23rd year together and this partnership has proven itself to be one of the most well-designed programs in the Vidalia onion industry,” John says.
Shuman Produce and its RealSweet brand is known for its core values; quality product, excellent customer service, innovative marketing, and giving back. What else may be on the horizon for Shuman Produce and the RealSweet brand? Stay with us at AndNowUKnow to find out.