With nearly 20 years experience in the Peruvian sweet onions, Shuman Produce in Reidsville, GA, is a leader in that import program and a major source for the retail market segment.
According to Shuman President John Shuman, the third-generation onion grower/shipper operation started by his father, Buck, in the mid-1980s with Vidalia onions and continues to be a leader in that region. It expanded into Peruvian product in the late 1990s as a way of meeting customer demand for year-round sweets.
“Shuman Produce began its Peruvian sweet onion program in 1998, with only a few containers brought into the country through the Port of Savannah,” Shuman said. “Today, nearly 20 years later, Shuman Produce is one of the leading Peruvian sweet onion import programs in the industry. The Peruvian sweet onion program began as a way to meet consumer demand for premium sweet onions on a year-round basis due to the popularity of Vidalia® onions.”
Shuman said that all onions grown by Shuman Produce “are sweet onions under our RealSweet® brand. Our sweet onions are the flat granex variety that consumers prefer and relate to the sweet, mild flavor of a premium sweet onion.”
Currently all Peruvian sweets are conventionally grown, but Shuman said, “With favorable growing conditions and increased consumer demand, there is limited but growing potential for production of organic sweet onions in Peru.”
Focus is on retail, and Shuman said packaging is an important component in presentation to consumers. “As our retail partners know, displays drive sales and that’s why we provide bags, bins and boxes that work to compliment each other. We recommend that our retail partners stock both bagged and bulk RealSweet® brand product to customize offerings to consumer demands and demographics,” he said.
Shuman added, “Our bagged product is an effective merchandising tool with high quality graphic product imagery and great seasonal recipes.”
This year’s marketing focus, he said, “has been to promote the RealSweet® Peruvian sweet onion as the premium sweet onion it is, and he noted, “We have spent much of our social media attention on educating the consumer about Peruvian sweet onions and the impact this important industry has on our economy through the Georgia Ports Authority.”
Labor and jobs are a combined a touchstone in the U.S. economy, and the Peruvian sweet onion plays a significant part in Georgia. “The Georgia Ports Authority touches over 370,000 jobs in Georgia and is a major economic driver in the Southeastern United States,” Shuman said. “The Peruvian import program helps ensure a quality work force at Shuman Produce’s business and packaging operations.”
To further broaden its reach, Shuman Produce uses social media as well and has created a sweet onion quiz “for both trade and consumer audiences to test their knowledge and understanding of the Peruvian sweet onion deal. By educating retail partners and consumers, demand for Peruvian sweet onions will continue to increase,” Shuman said. The quiz can be found on Shuman Produce’s Facebook page.
For more information, visit the company’s website, http://www.realsweet.com.