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Pricing on onions gains needed strength

Onion supplies across North America are down somewhat.

In the Pacific Northwest, the region saw heat waves, which hit triple digits for sustained periods of time, throughout the summer. “It was a lot of heat units, more than we probably would have liked,” says Jared Gutierrez of Columbia Basin Onion LLC., a grower/shipper based in Hermiston, OR. “It slowed growing down and it took that top yield off. So the yields will be down somewhat.”

Along with affecting those early yields, the heat also sped up the growing season slightly. “Harvest is ahead of schedule by several days,” says Gutierrez. “But in our area, there’s good weather still so everyone is just working their way through it. I do think harvest will finish a bit sooner.”

Across the U.S., onion supplies are anticipated to be offset overall. While the aforementioned heat was also seen in growing regions such as California and fields in the lower part of New York state received rain, other regions such as New Mexico had a good growing season. Canada is also expected to have a good crop of onions.

Increased imports
Import onions are of note for the industry and Gutierrez notes that the U.S. has gone from exporting a higher percentage of onions to now importing a higher percentage. “That makes it tough,” he says. “We’re held to such a high standard of food safety regulations and with other import onions, we don’t know how well they’re being monitored.”

That said, demand is solid for onions. “The bigger ones are being asked for such as colossal and jumbos and there are just not as many of those,” he says. “There are mediums so you have to balance that. Foodservice for example is used to those bigger onions so that will be challenging.”

Meanwhile on pricing, the slightly lower crop means the market is rising for onions says Gutierrez, who notes that pricing on red onions has picked up earlier than anticipated. “That is needed given the rise in costs of production. Everything is up from the farm to packing them. The costs of onions has risen and it’s hard to recover that. This is helping out and I hope it stays that way.”

For more information:
Jared Gutierrez
Columbia Basin Onion LLC.
Tel: +1 (541) 667-9472  

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