On Tuesday evening, around 150 people from the onion sector turned to the Webuinar of De Groot en Slot. After an explanation of the varieties by Peter Vroegindeweij and an explanation of the crop protection methods in onions by Luc Remijn (Delphy), Maarten van Damme of Dacomex discussed the market conditions, which are currently characterised by the export record. "The 10,000 tonnes we exported per week in the early 1980s has grown to +40,000 tonnes by 2020, the largest increase in the last fifteen years, with an annual growth of 3-5%."
"The amounts of onions being sold are huge, with exports of almost 46,000 tonnes in week 45, an absolute record. West Africa is the driving force, but the United Kingdom and Southeast Asia are also major buyers with another year of striking demand from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh," the exporter noted. "As exporters, we have been able to cope with the disappearance of destinations such as Russia reasonably well using other destinations, which means that the onions often run out before the new harvest is on the market. The Netherlands really plays a role as a hole filler in this. Shortage? Call the Netherlands and there are always a few people ready to deliver onions."
Maarten mentioned Brexit as a threat to exports. "The question is whether we will continue to go to the United Kingdom with the same volumes or whether the country will grow more. But overall, I expect onion exports to continue to increase in the coming years and I see the annual increase of 3-5% holding up. In the coming years, we will continue to feed more and more mouths and the Netherlands can render a good service as an exporter, but other countries are not standing around either. Morocco is making good progress and the country is currently supplying all of West Africa. A country like China also supplied onions to the Netherlands last year. It is important that we do not price ourselves out of the market, because then other countries can quickly take our place, "the exporter warned.
In order to supply the world with onions in the future, a larger area will be necessary, according to Maarten. "This year the quality is generally good, but we do see more difference between the growing regions. In the past the best yields came from the heavy clay, but we are now seeing a small decrease in the yield. The quality of the Zeeland clay is still good, but there is also an earlier fusarium on display and the onions from the sand have significantly less disease pressure. We see fairly quickly whether the onions come from the sand or from the clay. It is good that there are innovations in quality, shelf life and improvement of the varieties. Our onions sometimes sit in a container for three to four weeks, so it is important that you can guarantee the quality. "
"We will also have to keep a close eye on quality towards the spring after a special growing season. It is possible that some quality problems will come to light here and there", says Maarten. He was hesitant to make a statement about the expected price development of the onions. "We are all very busy at the moment, but the countries that are now mainly on the market - West Africa, the Caribbean and Asia, will decrease sharply in January. If we later still have 30% of the demand from West Africa in February and March, we can be happy. The big question is of course what this will do to the price. "