Top 5 Things You Need to Know
- Taste: Sweet onions have a milder, sweeter taste than regular onions.
- Selection: Consumers should choose onions that are firm to the touch and heavy for their size. Avoid onions with soft spots or obvious signs of decay.
- Use: Sweet onions can be eaten raw or cooked but are a favorite as a topping for sandwiches. They are also most often used as a base for a “blooming onion.”
- Merchandising: Promote sweet onions as a different eating experience from regular bulb onions. Be sure to clearly label your sweet onion display.
- Health: Research suggests that eating onions may help prevent bone-density loss and prevent osteoporosis.
On the shelves
There are a number of different sweet onion varieties, but all have similar tastes. Consumers may be most familiar with sweet onions by their variety names, such as Vidalia or TexaSweet.
Despite their hefty weight and sturdy appearance, onions can bruise, so be careful when placing them on the display. Don’t stack them too high or the weight of the top onions will bruise the ones on the bottom. Sweet onions don’t like water. Avoid spoilage by keeping your sweet onion display away from misters. Though often thought of as a summer food, sweet onions are available year-round.
Set sweet onions apart from regular onions to draw consumer attention to them. Satisfy all your customers’ sweet onion needs by offering both bagged and bulk product. Consumers will seek out sweet onions to use as part of their grilled meals. During peak grilling season, give sweet onions a prominent display. Consider a secondary display in the meat department.
Making the sale
Onion blooms have become a popular fixture on restaurant appetizer menus, but you can encourage shoppers to create their own at home by cross-merchandising the onions with recipes, breading and dips.
Sweet onions’ popularity skyrockets in the summer when consumers are looking for toppings for all those grilled sandwiches. Run promotions on onions along with hamburger or chicken.
Include sweet onions in any summertime grilling or picnic displays.
Don’t forget about sweet onions in the winter, though. Include sweet onions in winter promotions as a tasty addition to stir-frys or as the base for a bloomin’ onion appetizer.
On the plate
Use sweet onions for obvious applications like onion rings and appetizers. Include sweet onions in salsas and salads. Grill sweet onions and place them on top of burgers and other sandwiches.
Nutrition and health
Onions contain an anti-oxidant called quercetin, which research has shown can help protect people from cataracts, heart disease and cancer.
Nutrient content descriptors
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following nutrient content descriptors for bulb onions: fat-free, saturated fat-free, sodium-free (must state that bulb onions contain less than 5 mg sodium per 85 g bulb onion), cholesterol-free, low in calories, and a good source of vitamin C.
At the register
4159 - Vidalia
4161 – Texas 1015s
4163 - Walla Walla
4164 - Maui
4165 - California sweet
4166 - other sweet
In the backroom
• Sweet onions are shipped in a variety of sizes and weights. Most shippers will pack to request.
• Boxes and mesh bags are available in 10-, 25- and 40-pound increments.
• Consumer packs are available in 2-, 3- and 5-pound bags.
• RPC – 6411, 6416
U.S. No. 1
U.S. No 2
• Temperature: 45 to 55 F (7.2 to 12.7 C)
• Relative humidity: 70-75%
• Mist: no
• Typical shelf life: 30 to 180 days
• Odor producer (Do not store or transport odor-sensitive items with commodities that produce odors. Onions produce odors that will be absorbed by apples, celery and pears.)
• Odor-sensitive (Onions will absorb odors produced by apples and pears.)
• Moderately sensitive to freezing injury (Able to recover from one or two light freezes.)
• For the short time onions are held at retail, they are usually not refrigerated. They need a dry atmosphere and too much humidity induces decay. Onions draw moisture from vegetables they are stored with, which may also cause decay.
• Stack onions to provide good air circulation. If in bags, stack in a crisscross manner leaving air space across the middle. Cartons should be stacked.