Pink onions are a cross between white and red onions and have become increasingly popular in recent years. This product, however, remains a niche market. Mulder-Onions, in the Netherlands, has now shone the spotlight a little brighter on this variety with its own brand - Flamingoo onions.
Pink onions are selled under Flamingoo brand
Pink onions have been around for a long time. These were recently brought to people’s attention in a Dutch onion campaign clip. This focus has, however, faded a little into the background. Several onions traders have, therefore, chosen to focus slightly more of their clients’ attention on this niche product. These traders are labeling pink onions under their own house brands - as is Mulder-Onions, which is based in the Dutch town of Kerkrade.
It has been two years since Gerard Hoekman decided to start trading in pink onions. Gerard is Mulder-Onions’ director. “You want to be able to distinguish yourself on the market,” he says. “We do so with our yellow onions too. We sell these under our own mark. So, why not also pink onions? Simply put, we chose to name the beast. In this way, we can better market this product to our clients.”
The demand for pink onions is limited to a few countries where people eat these onions. “The pink onion variety is less sharp than the yellow onion. It also looks more similar to a red onion. A pink onion also has a completely different texture,” says Gerard. “Of the 70 countries that we export Dutch onion to, there are only five across the globe who find pink onions interesting."
"We already do a lot of trade with our yellow onions, but you must remain open to new things. The onion world is very traditional. It could, therefore, be very innovative to bring a different color onto the market, for once. In the Netherlands, you do not find pink onions so easily in the supermarket. They are, however, there.”
Remains a niche product
Pink onions form a niche market and will remain so, according to Gerard. “It is no yellow onion, which will soon pass the 100,000-ton mark. Its flavor and texture are too different. Pink onions are also priced higher than conventional yellow onions. The fact that we offer them is a small service to our clients. In this way, we can also supply this niche product," continues Gerard.
"Pink onions are more expensive than other onions. But, they are also more costly to cultivate. There is more waste, and pink onions are less profitable. This product has small volumes and relatively high prices. The large export markets, therefore, do not sit and wait for pink onions. The vegetable mash market wants masses of onions. They do not want to buy any special products.”
Pink onions can be grown anywhere in the Netherlands. “You can cultivate them in (the province of) Zeeland’s clay soil. Or in the polders of Flevoland. They grow equally well in both these areas. These onions are cultivated in other European countries too. Italy, France, and the United Kingdom, however, only grow pink onions for their local markets. They do not export them. That means there is hardly any competition for Dutch pink onions on the export market.”
Mulders-Onions is currently out of pink onions. “The season runs from about August to April, if all goes well. Last year’s situation in the Indian market was extraordinary. India usually cultivates a lot of pink onions for export and its own market. But, the market was empty. We could, therefore, take advantage of this with our Flamingoo onions,” Gerard concludes.