Interested buyers are taking advantage of the Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee’s duo VIP Tour program this year, with registration currently underway at https://usaonions.com/2021-vip-onion-buyers-tour-application/.
In-person and virtual VIP Tours have been organized, with the first tour, the live event, scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 2. The virtual tour will take place Oct. 15-31. Deadline for completing the application for one or both is Aug. 16.
According to USA Onions Promotion Committee Chairman Marc Bybee, the committee decided to again offer a virtual tour, which met with good response in 2020 as COVID-19 brought live gatherings to a halt. At the same time, he said, a return to the in-person tour was enthusiastically approved by the promotion group.
Noting the two-fold approach meets the needs of all buyers, Marc said the goal of the live visits has always been to “create stronger relationships between the shipper and buyer.” He said in-person meetings “undoubtably also make the visiting buyer a better asset for their own company.”
And he added, “We believe there is nothing better than an in-person visit, a chance to walk in the field or shed, to hold an onion in hand and have its characteristics explained by someone with generational knowledge.”
First presented in the early 2000s, the live event can host a visiting group of up to 18 buyers and features a variety of activities that include networking opportunities at receptions, luncheons and dinners. In addition, visiting buyers are given real-time harvest experience with packing shed and onion field visits.
The virtual tour, which is available for buyers to watch during a two-week period in October, is both convenient and effective in presenting a well-rounded look at each participating company.
“While we hope to be entering a post-COVID world, we all still face a lot of unknowns going forward,” Bybee said. Using the successful format from 2020, when the Committee pivoted and developed a virtual tour, each shipper will be featured in video/photo presentations as well as customized interviews. Each will have an individual “welcome page” with downloadable fact sheets, and all facets of the tour will be accessed through the USAOnions.com website.
And as in 2020, this year’s Virtual VIP Tour has the flexibility to involve dozens of approved buyers, organizers said. Bybee added, “The format is a great opportunity for each individual shed to plan, present and edit their unique spin on what they might have to offer. It’s a chance to make and star in your own infomercial while utilizing some professional guidance.”
Live tour funding is through federal monies obtained by a grant from the Idaho Department of Agriculture. In 2020 those funds were in place prior to the onset of COVID-19 and its restrictions and were repurposed for the virtual tour. This year the Promotion Committee opted to keep federal grant funding secured for the live event in September, and it budgeted separate funding for the virtual event in October.
Featured onion image collection courtesy of the Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee