Gills Onions
Gills Onions

Why Brands are Making the Switch to Whole-Peeled Onions

Cutting out 90 minutes of labor per box is just the beginning.

The restaurant industry has always been something of a rollercoaster for operators, but that’s never been more true than the past couple of years. It’s been challenging for restaurants across all sectors to find ways to produce consistent, quality dishes despite labor, supply, and inflation issues.

Gills Onions can appreciate just how unpredictable the restaurant industry can be. As a 39-year-old soil-to-table onion-growing operation, the company has seen a lot over the years. When brothers Steve and David Gill founded Rio Farms—now the growing operation that supports Gills Onions—in Oxnard, California in 1983, they couldn’t have known that they would soon become the largest fresh-cut onion processor in the country. It happened by accident, really, when a company that made salsa asked if the Gills could take care of whole-peeling the product for them. The Gills added processing capabilities and later, due to surging demand from the restaurant industry for labor-saving solutions, they began their journey as a foodservice vendor.

Now, Gills Onions offers value-added products—whole-peeled onions, with various options for diced or chopped onions in different thicknesses—that are as useful as ever. Pivotally, restaurants can save 90 minutes peeling and dicing onions per 50-pound sack. But there’s more nuance to this, says Megan Jacobsen, vice president of sales and marketing for Gills Onions, who happily reports that the labor savings are just the beginning of the ROI when restaurants make the switch to Gills Onions.

“Having less skilled labor in your kitchen means a task like peeling and chopping onions can be especially time consuming,” Jacobsen says. “It also means that employees are more prone to injuring themselves. So when we talk about the ROI from our value-added products, we tell restaurants there’s a lot to consider, including reduced worker comp claims.”

Another area where Gills Onions offers an ROI edge over its competitors is with an 18-day shelf life. There’s a science behind this—always looking to innovate in order to offer the freshest, most high-quality end product, Gills has reduced the nitrogen in its soil by nearly 50 percent over the years. This helps create a dry onion ideal for restaurants—it keeps the product fresh and nutritious, explains Jacobsen, while extending the shelf life.

“Our company is super passionate about soil health and creating a truly sustainable product,” Jacobsen says. “That all starts with soil, and our product is healthier, better for the environment, and simply a higher quality product overall.”

Gills Onions also offers its customers what it refers to as “100 percent full traceability.” There’s a code on each box or bag of onions that Gills sells to its customers that shows everywhere those onions have been since the day the seed was put into the ground. This gives operators a piece of mind when it comes to food safety, and is another area where Gills is helping operators run their restaurants more efficiently—and safely—in the face of myriad challenges.

“We are passionate about helping address a lot of these things that tend to keep people up at night,” Jacobsen says. “Being the answer to some of those problems is something we really care about.”

For more on adding whole peeled onions, visit