Two-thirds of the harvest was gone in the first half of the season

A net quantity of 1,2 million tons of onions needs to be reflected in Dutch export figures. That means, at week 4, there was still a balance of at least 400,000 tons. Up to week 3, no less than 800,000 tons were exported. That amounted to two-thirds of the harvest. To move the remaining 400,000 tons before week 27, an average of no less than 18,000 tons has to be exported per week. Not an impossible task, but no small one, either. Up to week 3, average exports stood at 27,200 tons per week.

The new year’s biggest customer was the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). They estimated a final amount to be 100,000 tons lower than their previous prediction. Onion acreage shrank with no less than 400 hectares to 27,216 hectares. The gross yield was adjusted downward to only 50,3 tons per hectare. The total amount is, therefore, 1,370,000 tons.

Of this, as a rule of thumb, some 80% - or 1,1 million tons - would be reflected in export figures, Add 100,000 tons - the result of the plentiful onion set harvest - to this, and the calculation is complete. This volume corresponds with the estimate that the onion trade sector presented at Euronion. There, during the first week of November last year, a 1,25 million ton export volume was estimated. This was reflected in weekly export reports.

The export demand in the first half of the season included several surprising destinations for the market. This broad demand resulted in a stable mood and profitable grower price levels. From October, these prices hardly ever fell below €10/100kg and have since touched on the €15 mark. There was demand from Brazil, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Bangladesh, Thailand, India, and Libya. Also, there was increased demand from the Philippines and Malaysia.

All this made for an additional demand of roughly 100,000 tons of onions in the first half of the season. Add the record export to Senegal - who took no less than 170,000 tons - and the surrounding West African countries to this. This increase explains why prices have remained fairly stable, despite large yields. Weeks of up to 40,000 tons of onions being exported no longer seem abnormal. Whereas, 15 years ago, 25,000 tons/week was still something unusual.

Poland also bought a lot of Dutch onions. The United Kingdom and Ireland, on the other hand, took significantly less of this product. The question is whether the demand from these destinations will increase in the coming weeks. This may or may not be followed by Eastern and Southern European countries. Brazil might also suddenly return to the market in spring. However, up until now, this remains merely speculation.

Farmers who have onions are now slowly letting go of them. Exports are also considerably lower than in previous weeks. In short, it remains exciting to see if the average exports of 18,000 tons/per week can be reached. This is needed to get rid of all the Dutch onions. Taring is also something that is costing the growers. Some batches are of excellent quality. However, Fusarium, the soil fungus, is an increasing issue that has many growers and buyers displeased.

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