White onion demand strong in good start for Northwest season

A steady start to the season has Northwest onion growers pleased with the way things have started. After the harvest began on time, the weather has also been very cooperative, with few issues to report. As a result, growers say supplies are good on all colors so far. The only notable factor is that there is expected to be more Jumbo sizes available this year.

"The harvest began in the first part of August and everything has gone to schedule since," said Eric Beck of Wada Farms in Idaho. "Growing conditions have overall been on par with the average with a few hotter days which has not affected the crop. It's been a good water year with good water storage availability. Reds, yellows, whites and organics are all in good production right now. There will be a few more Jumbo sizes than last year, but overall this is not expected to have an impact on the market."



White onion demand starts strongly
For the start of the season, growers have noted that the demand for white onions has outpaced that of the other colors. Although it's still early in the season, this has been a cause of encouragement. "The market has started as expected with average prices for the most part," Beck noted. "Demand for white onions has been pretty good. It started hot at the start of the season and remains strong while demand on other colors is moderate."

Beck added that more companies are investing in technology, especially when it comes to the packhouse. "One of the most notable developments has been the increase of investments into technologies and infrastructure among the grower base," he shared. "We are seeing much more automation in the packhouse as onion growers look to improve their customer service and also meet the challenge of labor."



Freight likely to be an issue again in Q4 
Freight rates are an issue once again. Currently, rates have eased a little since fresh highs a couple of months ago. However, the relief is not expected to remain for long, with Holidays around the corner and the expected shortage of available truck drivers a concern for shippers. "We have seen a bit of a reprieve lately as we are coming off summer highs," Beck observed. "However, freight rates remain well above the long term average. In Quarter 4, transportation is expected to be an issue again as we get into the Holidays. There is still a shortage of truck drivers and the finite supply means demand will rise."

Beck believes an answer to the truck driver shortage is to make driving more attractive again which will draw more back into the industry. "One of the ways to attract more drivers is to find a way for them to be home every night," he said. "This can be achieved through smart networking, scheduling and collaboration. Another way is to make long haul trucking more lucrative so that more will stay in the industry."

For more information:
Eric Beck
Wada Farms
Tel: +1 (208) 542-2898

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