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Onion prices expected to rise as Northwest finishes up

It's a busy time of year for the onion market in North America. Several regions are finishing up, while another few are starting. The Texas season has just begun, but suppliers have noted a slow market as other regions like the Northwest and Mexico are still shipping stock. As the bigger volumes from these regions start to dissipate, Texas growers expect that the market will open up.

"The Texas onion season started about two weeks ago," said Don Ed Holmes from The Onion House in Weslaco. "It's been a slow start as there has been a lot of Mexican product still coming through. Things are starting to change now as the Northwest crops of Idaho, Oregon and Washington are finishing up. There's not a lot left in storage and the majority of what's left has been spoken for. This has opened up the market for Texas. Other regions such as California and Georgia have also just started up, however they are not producing the volume to match the void left behind by the Northwest."

Don Ed Holmes and wife Janie

As a result, growers expect that prices will start to rise very shortly. Assisting this will be the anticipated uplift in demand as the Northeast slowly climbs out of winter. "With the lessening of supply, prices are expected to rise," Holmes said. "Normally by April, Northeast demand increases, but the cold weather there has been prolonged. We're seeing temperatures start to be increase now and this should prompt consumer demand to rise."

Late start for Texas
The onion season in Texas was slightly delayed due to extended rainy weather during the planting season back in October. This planting delay resulted in harvesting being pushed back by two weeks. However, Holmes noted this most likely benefited Texas growers who subsequently faced less competition from Mexico. 

"We started planting two weeks later than scheduled and we're still a bit behind for the season," he observed. "The weather has been unusually temperate lately, with highs remaining in the 80s and we should catch up if it remains as good as it has been. Mexico had a late peak so the late start to our Texas season was beneficial as Texas cannot compete with Mexico with their lower cost base. Now prices have returned to $8.00 which is at the point when Texas production is profitable."

Larger retail packs for value market
Due to the increased volume throughout the year, prices have largely remained flat. As a result, there is more of an opportunity for value packs on the retail side. Holmes noted that 3lb packs have seen an increase in consumption.

"We have increased our 3lb capacity as onion prices have presented good value for consumers," he said. "With the value market at lower levels, consumer bags have moved very well in comparison to individual onion sales." 

For more information:
Don Ed Holmes
The Onion House
Tel: +1 (956) 973-0552

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