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Summer heat wave produces smaller crop of Quebec onions

Mid-size onions from Quebec look tight on supplies this season.
“We had extremely warm weather this summer. It was warmer than normal. So the effect on the onions was they’re smaller and the volumes are definitely lower than in a normal year,” says Mario Cloutier of Groupe Ethier Inc. in Mirabel, Que.

In fact, this past July, the province of Quebec saw a severe heat wave of repeat days hitting 100+ºF temperatures that caused more than 70 deaths in the province.

Short on spec
Cloutier estimates supplies might be down as much as 20 percent compared to last year. “The sizing, 2 ¼ and 3 inches, this bracket of sizing is really really low and availability is really short. That’s the main size we use to pack 5lbs. and there’s a drop in volume,” he says. “There’s a lot of volume over and under specific requirements but in between where the major requirements are, it will be really short this season.”

Given the hot and dry summer that was seen in Quebec, in July already, Cloutier saw this might be an upcoming issue. “I asked the chain stores to reduce their specifications. Otherwise we’d be short on supply so I had no choice,” he says. “And that ¼ inch, customers won’t see difference. It may be one more onion per bag for example.”

Heat affected others too
He notes that other regions see similar issues. “Ontario growers for example see this too. Growers on the East Coast of the U.S. also had the same climate we did and are having the same kinds of problems. So while demand is good and steady for onions, we won’t be able to supply it,” Cloutier says. “We’re getting calls from overseas in Germany and France to supply onions and we’re not able to.”

All of this has had a bit of a stabilizing effect on pricing. “We’ve had less pricing highs and lows this season. In a normal year, there’s a lot of fluctuation until Christmas time,” says Cloutier, noting pricing itself is similar to last year. “Normally between mid-October to the beginning of November, some smaller companies who are not equipped with storage and want to sell right away before November, they come in and can drop the price as low as $10. This year, it hasn’t happened because the volumes are on the low side.” He notes that pricing currently is between $16-$17CDN FOB.

For more information:
Mario Cloutier
Groupe Ethier Inc.
Tel : +1 (450) 435-9581

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