It has been a memorable year for Van der Lans International. This Dutch company is an established player in the import onion arena. "I have never experienced anything like this," says the company's Jan van der Lans.
"Usually, at this time of the year, you still have an overflow of Dutch product. But, European onions are simply running out now. This has resulted in brisk trade and massive prices."
"New Zealand did send larger volumes to Europe than in other years. Most of the shipments from New Zealand are stopping now. So, I expect a good supply of this country's onions until the end of June."
"Sales are quite widespread. We have programs in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and France. But we send onions everywhere," explains Jan.
Jan with his daughter in Tasmania
The price of the New Zealand onions is at a stable EUR1/kg level. In the meantime, Egyptian yellow onions are being presented as an alternative to Dutch and European onions.
"Prices are at around EUR0,70. There is a good demand for this product too. Production is switching from Upper Egypt to the Delta region at the moment. Because of this, we currently have less supply."
The demand for Egyptian red onions has also taken off. "And this is reasonably early. We usually only start with red onions at the end of May/beginning of June. Prices are very fixed," says the importer.
"Perhaps there will be more movement when more product comes onto the market in June." According to Jan, these high prices are not hindering the demand for onions. "People need onions in their kitchen. There is simply no replacement for this product."
This year, countries like China are getting their foot in the door in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. However, Jan does not see this as a future threat.
"China is on the same latitude as us. If we have a normal season next year, there is no space for import onions in the winter. There will only be room for these in the spring again," Jan concludes.