The onion for storage campaign is underway in Spain with stagnant demand and prices that do not reflect the product's low supply, since the 2020 harvest yields fell by more than 40%.
“Exports have dropped a lot since the coronavirus pandemic started. Since the arrival of the second wave this autumn, the Horeca channel has remained very inactive. Spanish onions stand out in the export markets with the large sizes, which are mainly intended for the hotel and catering industry,” says Alfonso Tamargo, president of the Spanish Association of Onion Exporters (ACEC).
“Despite the marked reduction in volumes, the demand is so low that sales prices have hardly been affected, although they have risen a bit compared to the summer months. In a normal situation, without this pandemic, the prices of large onions would now be very high,” he says. "Although there has been a greater consumption in homes and, therefore, an increase in sales in the retail and greengrocers, they have not compensated for the loss of the horeca channel."
Another obstacle for Spanish onions, according to Alfonso Tarazona, has been the strong competition from the Netherlands, especially with the medium sizes, which are more abundant this year in Spain. “The Netherlands seems to have had a bumper crop. Dutch onions have exerted a lot of pressure in almost all markets, even though India did not export. The African and Far Eastern countries have been well-supplied with Dutch onions. Normally, Spanish onions always find new markets; this has been the trend in recent years.”
Although there are no accurate data on this year's onion acreage for the harvest that will kick off in April in the earliest areas of Andalusia, a slight reduction is expected. Also, at the moment there are some delays in the planting of early onions in some areas due to the impact of storm Filomena in early January. “In September and October, the weather was very dry and producers feared they would not have enough water resources for their plantations in Andalusia. This, coupled with the fact that, at the time of planting, the demand has not been very good and that this situation remains uncertain due to the health crisis, will surely lead to a slight reduction of the onion acreage.”