In Europe, there is currently a surplus of onions on the market. That is leading to low sales prices. There are not only large volumes, but the onions, themselves, are generally large too. That is because the recent wet weather has promoted growth. Many onion growers can, therefore, achieve higher harvest yields per hectare.
That, combined with lacking exports, means kg prices have dropped dramatically. So much so, that, last week, a Dutch onion farmer left 200 tons of grubbed onions in his field. The market price was €0.02/kg at the time; so, below the cost price. Onion prices have since climbed slightly in Belgium. Onion sets are now selling for around €0.07/kg; onion seeds at €0.08/kg.
Increased exports, very wet weather
There are two reasons for these rising prices. That is according to grower Stefaan Lannoo of Fresh Onions. "Overseas demand has been increasing since last week, as have exports," he says. "However, because of the rain, many growers cannot load their onions yet. This week, for example, a truck from France was here to load onion sets. They had come empty because they couldn't load in France. It was too rainy. The lack of supply will probably also push prices up a bit soon. Luckily, because I have plenty of seed onions."
The damp weather also increases the chance of disease, fungi, or contamination. But Stefaan has not seen much of that yet. "It's not too bad in this region. We've managed to control it. The red onions had some bacterial rot. And a few batches of seed onions had mildew. But, nothing alarming. The harvest prognosis is, surprisingly, higher than in previous years. If prices now also play along, it'll be all right," concludes Stefaan.