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Alberta onions see late start to the season

Like many commodity growers, onions in Alberta seem to be running behind.

“We usually have local Alberta onions but they’re late this year so we’re using winter onions out of Washington,” says Mike Soufan with Calgary-based Freestone Produce Inc. “Local onions probably won’t start until September 25th or so.”

Freestone opts to source for gaps in the market out of Washington due to the thicker skin on the onions. “We have had some California onions but the problem with those is they’re thin-skinned and they attract fruit flies by the time they get here so we stay away from those,” he says.

The late start on the onions is due to the dry weather season the province is experiencing. “We haven’t had rain here for two months. We usually expect the onions within the first 10 days of September, but this year it’s later. They’re very slow this year,” he says.

Demand keeps on coming
Meanwhile demand in the region remains high for onions. “We do sell a lot of onions--Calgary is a really ethnic community so we move a truckload a week,” he says.

Even with that high demand, prices seem to be dropping ever so slightly on Washington onions. “A couple of weeks ago, it was $8.50US/bag. This week it’s $7.50US/bag,” Soufan says. “These local onions don’t have a price on them yet but in general, they go from $12-$15CDN/bag for a 50 lb. bag.”

At the same time, Soufan anticipates that onion pricing will continue to slide. “I think the price will come down from Washington,” he says. “We get some 10 emails a day of people offering us onions.”

For more information:
Mike Soufan
Freestone Produce Inc.
Tel: +1 403-248-4466

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