Battle Produce Exchange will offer Vidalia onions

Battle Produce Exchange, Traverse City, Mich., which markets Oso Sweet onions, will launch its Oso Sweet Vidalia program next year, said John Battle, president.

“We are truly a 12-month program as of next year,” Battle said.

The company also will launch its Oso Organic program with Peruvian sweet onions in September.

Battle estimates that the company will ship up to 30,000 packages of organic sweet onions from Peru. He said he expects the company to ship 1 million packages of all onions for the first time next year.

Bland Farms ties in with ‘Shrek Forever After’ film

Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga., is going all out in its promotion of the new movie “Shrek Forever After,” said owner Delbert Bland.

The promotion will include posters in stores and Shrek bin wrap on bins of Vidalia onions.

“We even have bags with the Shrek promotion,” he said. The movie opens May 21.

Brings Co. merges with H. Brooks & Co.

Two longtime Minnesota produce companies, St. Paul-based Brings Co. Inc. and New Brighton-based H. Brooks & Co. LLC, have merged.

Under the agreement, the Brings staff will work out of the Brooks headquarters but will maintain its brand and its identity, said Pat Coan, who will continue as Brings president.

Coan said the merger should enable Brings to offer even better marketing programs and customer service and will provide the firm with more space in a state-of the-art facility with a top-notch food safety program.

Brings, established nearly 80 years ago, packs a full line of onions for retail, wholesale and foodservice distributors.

Brooks, founded more than 100 years ago, ships a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Michael DeBerry is back at David K. DeBerry Inc.

Michael DeBerry, brother of president David DeBerry, has rejoined David K. DeBerry Inc., Edinburg, Texas, as a salesman and director of new business development specializing in institutional, foodservice and export business.

Michael DeBerry returns to the company after a three-year stint at Nowell Borders Farms, Hargill, Texas.

The company, which has begun working toward its sweet onion certification with National Onion Labs Inc., Collins, Ga., expects to ship 1.5 million boxes this year.

DeBruyn Produce opens Florida onion warehouse

Zeeland, Mich.-based DeBruyn Produce Co. has opened a 30,000-square-foot onion warehouse in Pompano Beach, Fla., said president Margret DeBruyn.

The facility will serve as a distribution point for Florida and the East Coast for a full line of onions, including up to 100 containers of Peruvian sweets, which will ship from late July through January.

The firm will offer sweet onions year-round as well as Spanish onions, DeBruyn said.

Salesmen Mike Diaz and Ralph Diaz are working out of the facility, which stores and packs bulk cartons and consumer packs and also handles some tropicals.

The company ships the Speedy Sweets label. The firm also relocated its accounting office to its Weslaco, Texas-based operation.

Keystone Fruit Marketing boosts sales staff by two

Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc. has added a Southwest office in San Antonio, headed up by Matthew Gideon, previously with A. Duda & Sons, Oviedo, Fla., and added Shawn Riker, previously with Vanguard International Inc., Issaquah, Wash., to the company’s sales staff in Walla Walla, Wash., said Marty Kamer, partner and vice president.

The company expects to ship more than 300,000 units of Vidalia sweet onions and about 475,000 units of Walla Walla sweet onions this season, he said. Keystone also markets red, white and yellow onions.

L&M Cos. to handle sales at Carzalia Valley

Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. will handle sales for Carzalia Valley Produce, Columbus, N.M., for the first time this year, after acquiring the Rocky Ford, Colo.-based Griffin Holder Co., Carzalia’s previous sales company, said James Johnson, Carzalia’s vice president.

Johnson expects L&M to bring new marketing ideas to the table, possibly including retail couponing and cross-promoting.

“They have a good handle on the retail side,” Johnson said.

He also said he expects to see more sweet onion promotions from the company.

Carzalia should ship 650,000 50-pound bags of yellow, white, red and sweet onions this year.

Market Fresh Produce picks category manager

Justin Allen has been named category manager for potatoes and onions, specializing in sweet onions, for Market Fresh Produce LLC, Nixa, Mo., said Jeff Jones, national director of procurement.

Allen is new to the produce industry, but he has an extensive marketing background, Jones said.

The company also was preparing to launch a high-graphic sweet onion bag for the Vidalia season. The bags will have recipes attached that will change throughout the year and provide consumers with new ways to use sweet onions, he said.

Market Fresh Produce expects to ship 250,000 cases of onions this year, an increase of about 20% over last year.

Onions Etc. opens office in Kansas City, Kan.

Onions Etc., Stockton, Calif., now has a Kansas City, Kan., location headed by Eric Schriever, previously with C&C Produce Inc., said Derrell Kelso Jr., owner and president.

The Kansas City location will enable the company to better serve its Midwest customers, he said. Onions Etc. offers sweet onions from Vidalia, Ga., and yellow, red and white onions from Stockton.

The company has AIB International certification and offers 100% traceability on consumer packs, Kelso said.

Sweet Onion Trading intern becomes specialist

Kelly Ricketts, who started at Sweet Onion Trading Co., Melbourne, Fla., as an intern, has been named onions specialist after graduating from the University of Florida, said Barry Rogers, president.

Ricketts will help market the company’s 800,000 cartons of onions this year from Georgia, California, Nevada, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Shuman Produce gets honor, plans promotion

Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga.:

  • has received a four-star rating from PrimusLabs.Com, 
  • will participate in the “Shrek Forever After” motion picture promotion with the Vidalia Onion Committee and 
  • will once again participate in the Produce for Kids program with multiple retailers in 26 states, said John Shuman, president and director of sales.

The company also plans to add the position of marketing director this summer.

“The director will develop the annual marketing plan for the company, manage individual marketing projects and oversee the company’s image and position to the marketplace,” Shuman said. “As we continue to grow sweet onions globally, we want to add staff that help us grow our company strategically.

Tanimura & Antle expects boost in sales

With prices at extraordinarily high levels on regular red onions early this season, more buyers might turn to the special Artisan Red Onions that Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. has to offer, said Anthony Mazzuca, salesman and onion commodity manager.

“The onion market has been at a historic high for the last three or four months,” Mazzuca said in late April. “With the market being as short as it is on the round red market, a lot of people are willing to take the Artisans in lieu of a round red.”

The company was conducting a co-marketing campaign featuring Artisan Red Onions, grown from proprietary seed, along with the firm’s Artisan Lettuce line, he said.

New packing line running at Thomson International

This will be the first full season that Thomson International Inc., Bakersfield, Calif., will have its new, digital computerized packing line up and running, said Jack Thomson, president and chief executive officer.

The equipment, which was installed midway through the season last year, will enable the company to meet precise customer specifications on white, red and yellow onions, he said.

The new line also was designed to reduce drops, bruising and mechanical damage. The company also has precooling capability that can cool onions loaded on trucks with refrigerated commodities.

Utah Onions to offer line of organic onions

Look for a full line of organic onions to begin arriving from Utah Onions Inc., Syracuse, Utah, as early September, said Shawn Hartley, owner and vice president of sales.

The company will ship jumbo and medium-sized red, white and sweet onions, and jumbo, medium and prepack yellow onions that meet the guidelines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program, he said.

At first, organics will account for less than 5% of Utah Onions’ sales, but Hartley expects that figure to increase as customers learn about the program.

The company added the program at the request of customers, he said.

“Customers have asked for organics to go along with their conventional red, white and yellow onions,” Hartley said.

Vidalia Onion Committee overhauls Web site

The Vidalia, Ga.-based Vidalia Onion Committee has revamped its Web site, said Wendy Brannen, executive director.

“The Web site will be completely overhauled to be more consumer friendly and better display beautiful food photography incorporating Vidalias,” she said.

It also will feature a new section for kids. In addition, the committee will be more fully engaged in social media, including Facebook and Twitter, she said.

Walla Walla Gardeners’ Association hires in sales

Todd Richard, previously with U.S. Food Service/Seattle, Fife, Wash., has joined Walla Walla Gardeners’ Association Inc. as a salesman, said Bryon Magnaghi, general manager.

The co-op, which also ships asparagus, markets Walla Walla sweet onions through mid-August, offers fall/winter sweet onions through February and markets organic sweet onions from mid-July through September.

Volume this year will be similar to last year’s 500,000 bags, Magnaghi said.

The co-op is putting in a new, 8,000-square-foot drying and cooling facility, he said. The facility should be ready the second week of June.

Walla Walla committee wins gold award

For the second consecutive year, the Walla Walla Sweet Onions Marketing Committee, Walla Walla, Wash., received the gold award from the Washington Festivals and Events Association for its poster promoting the 25th annual Walla Walla Sweet Onion Festival last July, said Kathy Fry, executive director of marketing.

This year’s festival is scheduled for July 17-18 in downtown Walla Walla.

The committee also has revamped its Web site — www.sweetonions.org — and has prepared a new promotional packet to call attention to the onions, which are harvested from June through August.