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Castile-La Mancha

Spain: Onion prices at origin drop as low as 5 cents per kilo

The sale of late onions has been cut short by the Russian veto on Western products, adding to the oversupply in both Castile-La Mancha and in some European countries, which has led to market saturation. Late onions will be stored in cold storage to be sold until March. 

Late onions, also known as Reca, are grown in over fifty holdings in the region of Antequera. This year, Castilian growers have focused on onions, leaving melons aside, which are usually produced in the region and which caused losses last year; this has led to oversupply, which has also affected some European countries like France and the Netherlands, consequently slowing down exports.

The late onion harvest started in mid-August and will finish in about a week, with prices now standing at 7 cents per kilo, and as low as 5 cents for less commercial calibres. Early onions, harvested between May and June, suffered the same issue. The product sales started well, but were later affected by dropping prices.

"Right now, we have reached the threshold of profitability for growers, who have little room to manoeuvre," says Carlos Carreira, head of the Agrarian Association of Young Growers (Asaja) in Antequera. 

Carreira also points out that as long as the Russian veto continues and the distribution channels are in the hands of big businesses, growers will be in trouble.

About 200 hectares of land have been planted with late onions this season, with a harvest that will finish in the coming weeks, reaching about 15 million kilos in the province of Málaga, where production concentrates in Antequera. 

This is a stronger onion because of the layers that cover it, making it possible to keep the production in cold storage and gradually sell it up to the month of March next year. Growers hope prices will improve during that period.

Juan Antonio Romero, manager of Horticultores El Torcal, hopes prices will increase enough to at least cover the production costs, highlighting the great quality of Reca onions this campaign.

Nevertheless, Romero says that "the prospects for the coming months are not looking very bright and we believe prices will continue to drop." Romero states that prices should ideally reach around 12 cents per kilo.


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