Dried sweet red onions and mixed packs are among the innovations being showcased by grower cooperative Bedfordshire Growers at Fruit Logistica this week.
Formed by dehydrating sweet red onions without any other additions, the dried snack could prove popular as an alternative to deep fried onions, or in pubs in place of salted nuts, according to MD Stephen Hedderly. There is also a growing market for healthy snacks at retailers, he added.
It’s the first time the company has presented its dried onions innovation, which are now ready to be commercially developed, Hedderly said.
“We have customers all over the world but there is always a grade of product that people don’t want, and this is a way of using that product,” he said.
Meanwhile, exports to South Africa of red sweet onion from Bedfordshire Growers doubled to two containers this year, and Hedderly said this is likely to double again next year. Production is expected to rise from 300 to around 1,000 tonnes.
“We launched the red sweet onions two years ago on Valentine’s Day, and we have overachieved on sales. We’re very pleased,” he said.
Other innovation at the company includes mixed bags of red and brown onions, as well as mixed packs of onions, shallots and garlic, after market research revealed shopper interest.
“You’ve got to be thinking about the next opportunity. Look at what the retailers are importing and ask which ones could we grow in the UK,” he said.