(Feb. 23) Potato giant Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC is expanding its onion program, introducing its own onion brand.

The Idaho Falls, Idaho-based company has hired industry veteran Nancy Carter to establish a western Idaho onion office. Carter, previously vice president of sales and marketing for J.C. Watson Co., Parma, Idaho, and past president of the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Fruit & Vegetable Association Inc., is Wada’s national onion director.

Wada, best known for its potato operations, added Dole-branded onions to its product line in 1998. The company plans to launch its own label for onions and to continue to offer Dole onions as well, said Kevin Stanger, senior vice president of marketing at Wada Farms.

Carter said the company has about a dozen onion co-packers and likely will add more.

Stanger said the company likely will have limited supplies of Wada-labeled onions, starting in late spring, until Idaho’s harvest begins in the fall.

Stanger said Wada, which has year-round onion supplies, ships 10-15 loads of onions a week from September through May, but that number could double or triple as the company expands its operations. Wada pulls product from across the country as well as Mexico and Peru and offers red, yellow, white and sweet onions, he said.

The new office will give Wada a local contact with Idaho and eastern Oregon onion growers. The company’s Idaho Falls headquarters is about five hours from the onion fields in Treasure Valley.