The Dutch onion season is off to a promising start. "As soon as the harvest was available, there was demand. We're already getting requests from the craziest destinations and even have to hold off customers. Otherwise, we'll run out of product in no time. So, it's a matter of staying focused on the clients you supply," says Maarten van Damme of Dacomex.
"There's a global onion shortage. Southern Europe has had one heat wave after another, and Senegal opened almost five weeks earlier. That says it all. Morocco is currently still supplying onions to African countries, but that will come to an end in a few weeks. We're already getting demand from destinations that usually only approach us in the spring. I, therefore, see no reason for demand to stagnate."
"Growers also notice this and are aiming high, which is a good thing. They've had to grow onions at almost cost price for the last three years. It's good that they're earning a good living. Otherwise, they'd all be growing wheat. Hopefully, it will be a good year for everyone. The quality is also better than last year, when there was more bacterial pressure, especially in the onion sets. But, there are some random fusarium infections," says Maarten.
"At present, the bale price is around €0.30; something I don't see falling immediately. More supply is coming off-land, but there are shortages everywhere." Maarten is not worried that too-high prices will deter customers from buying onions. "I was a few weeks ago, but demand has only increased. Although in some African destinations, onions might become too expensive."
"Yet, there are no alternatives. China is sometimes mentioned, but it's not 2018, and container rates are very different. That's why I don't consider China true competition. There are generally many more signals on green than red. There are more containers available, but availability is still an issue. Certainly, to Africa, the rates remain steep. To the Far East, there's a bit more competition among the shipping companies, and those rates have cooled down a bit," Maarten concludes.