As the Peruvian sweet onion season draws to a close, Keystone Fruit Marketing, a division of Progressive Produce, is gearing up to transition from Peruvian Mayan Sweets to Mexican Mayan Sweets.
Mayan Sweets are recognized as a respected and established brand. The company’s foray into sweet onions began in the early 1990s when it became the first company to grow sweet onions in Peru. "The founders of Keystone wanted to have a year-round sweet onion program, and that meant going to various regions across North and South America to ensure we had high-quality sweet onions available throughout the year," said Matthew Gideon, onion category manager.
Keystone Fruit Marketing is an importer of sweet onions from Peru into the United States and now has grower partners in multiple regions, including Washington, California, Mexico, Texas and Georgia. "We currently only offer organics from Washington and California and we are actively exploring opportunities to expand our organic offerings in Mexico and Peru to meet the increasing demand for organic produce," said Gideon.
Matthew Gideon (right) and Jose Guevara in the fields in Huaura, Peru in October.
The Peruvian sweet onion season, a cornerstone of Keystone's year-round program, typically runs from late July through March, with peak supply from September to December, aligning for holiday promotions. “While this season has presented some challenges due to unusual weather patterns and a disproportionate number of small onions, we have adapted to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality sweet onions,” said Gideon.
As the Peruvian sweet onion season nears its conclusion, the company anticipates the start of the Mexican sweet onion season, which is set to kick off in mid-January, and early indications suggest an excellent crop. Keystone expects ample marketable supplies of Mexican sweet onions available through April, along with a full line of onion varieties, including red, white, yellow and the company’s flat sweet onions, for 2024.
Keystone has found that offering both bulk and consumer packs of sweet onions is effective. "The usual promotional periods are around the winter holidays, but we have found that our retail partners also have success in promoting sweet onions around holidays all year long,” said Gideon. “Another thing is to be flexible on the onion size and bagged onion volume amount. Being flexible could provide spot opportunities for margin gains at the consumer level."
Keystone values its relationships with its growers and customers and prides itself on the integrity it carries through those relationships. "Bringing high-quality onions from our growers to our retail partners' stores is what we love to do," added Gideon.