“South Africa is an increasingly important supplier of high quality onions to the UK and EU. Not only this year with the shortages, but already back in 2021 and 2022 we saw more interest for our onions. Our quality has improved a lot over the years and it is 100% on par with supermarket requirements,” says Pieter du Toit, head: Dutoit vegetables, based in the Koue Bokkeveld, the only area in South Africa to export significant volumes of onions.
“We have the ability to supply onions when needed from January to the middle of April. Current demand for brown onions is very strong as a result of global shortages. Five years ago we took the strategic decision to export a portion of our onion crop, but as a result of the shortages we’ll be exporting approximately 15% more than we’d initially planned.”
Buyers from the UK and the EU are looking for class 1 brown onions with sizes between 40mm and 90mm, but predominantly 70mm and bigger.
The company, which also exports topfruit, cherries, peaches, nectarines and sweet potatoes, will export a significant part of their onion crop.
Not many of the onion producers in the Korkom commodity group, representing Koue Bokkeveld onion growers, are exporting.
The greatest demand for onions still come from the EU and the UK, but buyers in the Middle East and Far East were also this season interested in the long day brown onions that growers are able to grow in the Koue Bokkeveld.
“With prices also higher locally, African exports will be down to previous years,” he adds.
They have had a normal onion crop regarding production and quality but the general sizing was smaller than normal with fewer bigger sizes. Some producers in the Ceres area (the Korkom area), have been heavily affected by hail and rain.
He remarks that container movement is affected by logistical problems at Cape Town harbour, and coldroom space quickly fills up.
For more information:
Pieter du Toit
Tel: +27 23 312 3136