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AU: Onions in extended season, still oversupplied

Onions are being planted around the country, and still coming out of storage in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, yet the traditional ‘price spike’ that selling through winter would normally bring has not been there, according to Red Gem’s Robert Cerchiaro. “The onion market has been oversupplied,” he said. “During 2014 and 2015 yields were quite high, so there’s still plenty of stock around and we can expect to see plenty into Spring with the stored, hard skinned onions.”
Some farmers have chosen to leave the onion business, due to a run of hard years, according to Mr Cerchiaro. “The fact that the onion crop goes beyond the potato crop does extend the income a little for those who grow both,” he added. “Onion sales in the Southern parts of the country can be pushed out to six or seven months of the year, but unless there's an impacting weather event the over supply continues.” 
Prices have not varied throughout the season, according to Mr Cerchiaro, who said that red onions, which usually command a premium, have had some of the ‘worst’ prices he had ever seen. “What’s been grown is a very good size, and good quality, so it’s a real shame that they’re not getting the premium price they deserve.”
As a supplier of potatoes as well as onions, Mr Cerchiaro said that there was a good response to the Coles ‘Spudtacular’ promotions on potatoes, during July, but the general issue of oversupply did also affect his other major crop. “We’ve been known for having a lot of gourmet varieties over our 33 years history, but today we have rationalized to focus on those bred for taste and growing performance.” Those varieties meet the need for retail, and for processing to extract as much value pack out returns as possible, according to him.

The relatively small size of the Australian market also means it is difficult to sustain demand for more gourmet potato varieties, according to Mr Cerchiaro. “In July what we saw was a lot of activity in the retail space, and that helped with the ‘glut’ but pricing has still been quite depressed in general.”

For more information

Visit the Onions Australia website: 

Robert Cerchiaro,
Red Gem
Phone: +61359425205

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