Little Bear's J&D Brand's Jimmy Bassetti, Bret Erickson, and Jeff Brechler Discuss HoneySweet Onions
- by Geneva Hutcheson
EDINBURG, TX - Little Bear, a J&D brand, has cultivated onions for over a decade, and best of all, the company’s HoneySweet onions are tearless. I spoke with President Jimmy Bassetti, Director of Business Development Bret Erickson, and Salesman Jeff Brechler from the Little Bear team about the flavorful, mild onion.
“We are incredibly proud of our HoneySweet Onions,” Jimmy says. “They are a proprietary variety that we developed in house by our team of onion experts. From seed production to customer delivery, our HoneySweet team carefully manages every detail along the way ensuring that we deliver quality and consistency all year 'round.”
Jeff eagerly expands on how the onion stands out in a crowd of laminous bulbs.
“What the HoneySweet is known for and what sets it apart is the consistency of flavor,” Jeff explains. “Pungency test results have been consistent down the line, growing region after growing region, year after year. The consumer does not have to ask, will this one be mild or hot? We’ve removed the guesswork and the ‘luck of the draw’—consumers can rest assured that each and every HoneySweet onion they pick up will be mild, we guarantee it.”
Bret and Jeff explain that HoneySweet onions have been on the market for 10 years and that as seed availability has increased, the customer base has too.
“Sales have increased rapidly as consumers are quickly realizing that our HoneySweet is the mildest sweet onion they have ever tasted, and that no matter the time of the year, when they see that Little Bear logo, they know they will be in for a fantastic eating experience, every single time,” Bret reveals.
“Customers like knowing that, no matter where the HoneySweet is grown, it will taste the same,” adds Jeff on the onion’s consistency. “Within the last three years the HoneySweet program has experienced double digit growth both in dollars and tonnage, year over year.”
And, with HoneySweet onions available year-round, consumers have no reason to turn away from the onion. To ensure that HoneySweet onions are created equally, Little Bear invests in research to make sure that the four different regions in which the onion grows all have the right conditions.
“Once all protocols have been met on the growing side, strict harvesting, handling, and packing protocols are followed to ensure that the quality and integrity of the program are maintained,” Jeff states. “If pungency levels are not met, those onions do not get packed and shipped as a HoneySweet. We have built a good following and there is no room or need for an ‘imposter’ sweet.”
What HoneySweet onions are best known for is their taste, which comes from a combination of R&D engineering and good ol’ natural selection.
“Attention to detail and the perfect amount of sunshine,” Bret explains. “We literally hand select onions as part of our HoneySweet breeding program. Our R&D team looks for the perfect size and shape, a sweet crisp taste, and low pyruvic acid levels, we then select the best of the best to help us achieve the mildest onion in the marketplace, all year long. We spent a long time developing our own customized natural selection breeding program. Our proprietary breeding program gives us control of each and every step in the breeding and production process. This, along with our carefully selected growing regions with just the right amount of sunshine ensures we have perfectly consistent sweet mild onions every single time, no matter what time of the year it is.”
The onions are available for foodservice and the company is currently expanding further into that realm, but the onions are also still available in 40 lb bulk cartons and 3 lb and 5 lb bags for the retail level. To market the onions, Little Bear recommends employing available POS materials.
Jeff says that the company is currently planning internal growth, with a focus on facilities, processing lines, and packaging.
“We are constantly evolving and growing,” Bret says. “With the significant growth in sales we have experienced over the last several years, we are investing in our infrastructure to ensure we can continue to deliver the exceptional HoneySweet to a rapidly growing customer base. We are also working on expanding our organic HoneySweet onion. The organic movement is here to stay, and we recognize that many consumers are seeking organic options; we have been ramping up preparations to expand our organic offerings on HoneySweets.”
While J&D’s Little Bear continues to strengthen its brand and fortify both its internal operations and its customer base, we here at AndNowUKnow will continue to report.