Longtime onion salesman Ken Stewart, who recently joined Asumendi Produce in Wilder, ID, now manages the sales office while Domingo and Ruben Asumendi, company president and vice president, respectively, manage the business and facility.
“I started with Asumendi in late August,” Ken told OnionBusiness.com in early September. He said Asumendi was mid-harvest at that time and “will begin packing onions by Oct. 1.”
Ken added, “At Asumendi, we concentrate on getting all of our onions harvested and into storage before we start the packing line.” He noted that in addition to growing all its own yellow and red onions, the operation packs and ships white onions from outside growers.
“Approximately 75 percent of our production is yellow onions, with 20 percent red and 5 percent white,” he said.
The full range of colors and sizes at Asumendi is being handled by new equipment installed this year, he said.
“We have installed a new Verbruggen palletizer, which is the second palletizer at our facility,” Ken said. Not only will the Verbruggen allow for increased production capabilities, but it will also help “to better manage our labor situation,” the veteran onion man said.
Ken added that Asumendi is also using a newly designed binning station “that will treat our onions more gently as we receive freshly harvested onions.”
With a similar number of acres coming to the Wilder facility this as it’s seen in past seasons, Asumendi Produce is looking at yields that appear to be “normal or better, and so we anticipate having similar packing/shipping season this year,” Ken said.
“We ship to a variety of receivers across the country,” Ken continued. “Asumendi has a significant number of repeat buyers that consist of produce houses and foodservice companies. We are always looking for new, good buyers, but we also anticipate that the majority of our production will go to longtime customers.”
Because the growing season brought nearly ideal conditions, Ken said, “We anticipate having very good quality, and we believe our size profile may be a bit larger than last year, which means we will have plenty of jumbo and colossal onions. That’s exactly what our customers want and what our area is noted for.”
Asumendi will pack and ship until March, and Ken said that transportation and labor, “always difficult issues,” have much to do with the timing of the season.
“One of the reasons we wait to start our packing facility until harvest is complete is to allow us to better utilize our labor force,” he said. “And we will continue to use truck and rail transportation this season to move our crop.”