"Ewald Gouwenberg: "present bale price cannot get lower"

Onion sales await revival

After the boom of onion sales of August and September, onion sales have reached an impasse. "We had a flying start and good overseas export, with deliveries to Africa for Ramadan and the Tabaski festival. However, now that the festivals are underway, we have stock left over. It is now a question of waiting," said Ewald Gouwenberg from sort and packing centre Waterman Onions in Emmeloord, Netherlands.

"Some will go to Africa, Asia and Central America but the volumes are not what they were due to the relatively high Dutch prices. For example Asia has done a lot of shopping in China and there are lots of Chinese onions on the market as they are cheaper than the Dutch, but the quality is not as good. This gives a halting effect for distribution on this side." said Ewald. "The stock from other African and Asian importers have outstanding amounts, and the quality of the Chinese onion in Asia are all factors which play a role in the stop in the onion market. As a result, the European situation is not even discussed. The bale price has been gradually lowered and that gives a certain scepticism to the market, even though we are in October and there is still a relatively high bale price."

"We were all optimistic at the beginning of the season and the farmer's motto was that we had the capability to do less for more, but the question now is whether this is true. Especially in Groningen, Friesland and the North East, the harvest has been very small. In the Southwest and Flevopolder, the harvest has decreased but the question is, by how much? There has been talk over substantially less weight. Last year with Poland, we had a nice back door for poor quality onions, but these onions must now all go in the bale."

"King Winter can make or break the market. We hope a decent winter follows for any gaps which appear in Europe and maybe Russia, but right now it is not a good thing to count on," said Ewald. "It is nice when you have a selection of all sizes and with a reduction in large sizes you miss a piece of the market."

Farmers have brought in most of their onions and there are not many left. The farmers will not sell the onions under the vegetable price and this makes buying difficult. The question is how long the farmer will sit on a price and whether the packers can maintain this. I am under the impression that the present bale price has reached 'rock bottom'. This could lead to more export overseas. It is possible that South America and the Middle East also come, and if so this will technically lead to an interesting October and November, we shall see," concludes Ewald.

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