KeyPerú plans to export 13,800 tons of mild-flavored onion (better known as yellow onions or sweet onions) this season, which began last August and ends in January next year.
CEO Michael Ognio pointed out that the company has 300 hectares in Ica and 100 hectares in Huaura dedicated to the vegetable, which together produce 32,000 tonnes of onions (80 tons per hectare), representing 20 % of the national supply.
The main market destinations for the sweet onion are the United States and Europe, where they are used to eating them raw (usually in salads). He said that it wasn’t consumed in Asia. "We were at the Asia Fruit Logistica and a similar fair in Japan, but they prefer the strong and spicy varieties. However, they are asking for samples of sweet onions," he said.
In that regard, Mr Ognio said that they had exported 300 containers of sweet onion (of 23 tons each) last year, which amounted to 6,900 tons in shipments at an export price of U.S. $ 0.32 per kilo. This year the company projects to ship 600 containers (13,800 tons), so they expect prices to increase.
Miguel Ognio said the low price of sweet onion in recent years is due to the flaws in its production in the United States, one of the largest producers and consumers. A situation that led Peruvian exports to be made earlier. However, this year the production in the U.S. recovered, so the market became saturated and prices fell.
He also said that Chile had had delays in production this year, so a lot of Peruvian onions had been bought in the months of August, September and early October. He clarified that KeyPerú didn’t export to the Southern country.
A question of management and health
On the other hand, he expressed that they produced conventional onions that were free of pesticides due to agricultural management that they perform. "We’ve taken preventive measures for our harvest and our agricultural practice is based on a new climate chronology in each of our sectors. However, we noticed that the plots of other producers located around ours have been affected by the stemphylium fungus that attacks the onion leaf tissue, decreasing their photosynthetic capacity, weakening the crops and killing them, " he said.
Another problem they are facing is that the producers of paprika have had economic problems due to the low price of paprika in international markets, so they haven’t been able to effectively rotate their fields with onions.