Demand For Sweet Onions Still On Upward Trajectory

Tidy, Prominent Displays Drive Incremental Sales

For optimum sales, Cindy Elrod of Peri & Sons recommends displaying sweets at the front of the store, on end caps and in the meat department. Savanello of Spartan Nash concurs: “We have seen great success merchandising sweet onions in the most visible location on the hardware set.”

K-Va-T also prefers a central location. “We are more aggressive with sweet onions than we are with other onions,” notes Ryan Ellison. “Bigger, more prominent displays are common for us in the Southeast. Typically, the first positions are reserved for our weekly features, but right behind that we are likely to feature ‘grocery list’ items, such as sweet onions. If you can get shoppers to pick up a sweet onion, they are most definitely cooking, which means they are likely to be getting multiple items throughout the store.”

To drive incremental sales, Shuman Farms, Reidsville, GA, offers full-color, high-graphic display bins for the produce and meat departments. “Based on our consumer research, we know merchandising Vidalia onions throughout the produce department is important to maximize sales,” says president and chief executive, John Shuman. “We recommend retailers create secondary displays throughout the produce department and the store with complementary items such as: bagged salads, peppers, mushrooms and potatoes.”

Making it easy for consumers to find sweets is vital, says Meg Robinson, marketing manager at Vidalia Brands & Bland Farms. “Using our display bins, which hold 40 pounds of sweet onions in the produce department, really helps drive sales,” she affirms. “It is also beneficial to put our secondary display units in other areas of the store like the meat department.”

NOA recommends displaying all onions prominently and neatly. “Discard any skins that are coming off, and stack the onions neatly, instead of dumping them in a pile,” says René Hardwick.

Ellison notes K-Va-T likes to stick with the same supplier year-round to ensure on-pack labeling remains consistent. “Customers learn the package and know to look for it,” he notes.

As demand has risen, Marty Kamer, president of Keystone Fruit Marketing, Greencastle, PA, says many retailers have found it advantageous to carry bulk or loose jumbo sweet onions, as well as consumer bags of medium sweets. “End caps, standalones, value-added product offerings, multi-size strategies and consumer bagged displays offer consumers multiple buying options and ensure sales lift,” he explains.