As a major year-round onion shipper that provides not only the Green Giant Fresh brand but also company-owned and private labels to foodservice, retail and wholesale customers, Idaho Falls-based Potandon Produce sees the value in attending the annual PMA Foodservice Show in Monterey, CA.
According to Ralph Schwartz, VP of sales, marketing and innovation, and Stephanie Bench, director of foodservice sales, the show is an excellent opportunity to build on client relationships and also meet with potential new customers.
Ralph cited the chance to “interface with our existing customers as well as to introduce potential new customers to our product lines,” adding, “With fresh and high quality onions being such a critical ingredient for so many dishes, buyers pay attention to the category. Our team has the knowledge and experience to demonstrate why customers should buy from us, and the show offers them the stage on which to shine.”
Stephanie agreed, saying the PMA Foodservice Show “helps us get in front of all the industry at one time. It also allows us to get our full product line out in front of all the industry.”
Ralph said the show has become a mainstay in the foodservice arena, but he noted attendance covers the onion-buying spectrum and has increased each year he’s participated.
“The PMA has done a fabulous job in attracting members both in the foodservice and retail segments of the produce industry; that being said, a PMA-sponsored show attracts a large and high quality audience from a sales perspective. We always find benefits and have never returned from a PMA show disappointed,” he said.
At this year’s show, Potandon will display onions from several growing regions, and Stephanie noted, “We will be showing samples of the jumbo yellow and jumbo reds. This seems to be the size that most of our customers base uses.”
The company will have onions from the California crop that Potandon has been shipping the past couple of months, and Ralph said the booth will also highlight IEO Spanish Sweets from Murakami Produce.
“Our team will be presenting a representation of our entire product line that demonstrates our quality and sizing. Since our national footprint is so large and seasonal, it’s not possible to show onions from every area,” Ralph said. “We’ll be highlighting the upcoming Idaho-Eastern Oregon season, which gets underway in early August. This area produces some of the finest onions in the world, and we’re honored to showcase them,” he said. “The growing area is the only storage onion region in the United States to be governed by a Federal Marketing Order. This means that onions shipping from the area are inspected daily by the Federal-State Inspection Service to certify that they are in accordance with grade, size, pack and maturity requirements. We’ve continued to grow our business in the Idaho–Eastern Oregon area because of the quality, and our sales team is always communicating that fact to potential buyers.”
Stephanie said the timing of the show, late July, is particularly good for onions. “PMA has helped to increase the visibility for the onion industry at the start of the new crop year,” she said.
The 2016 IEO growing season has been good, Ralph said, “with plenty of sunshine and mostly adequate water,” and he noted, “The crop progressions through the summer seasonal areas has been orderly and there are no excessive inventories needing sell-off before we transition into the fall areas. So at this point we feel that upcoming season will be very successful. We are making a push to grow our business in both the retail/wholesale sector and foodservice sector this fall and into next year. Our team is energized and we see a crop that will be highly marketable due to its quality – a great position to be in.”
Agreeing, Stephanie said, “Over all the onion market has been steady demand and market is steady in all segments. Quality out of the seasonal areas has been excellent and will be ending strong. This will help to carry over into the storage crop out of the Northwest.”