"I think what's happening on the onion market is absolutely amazing. There's confidence in the product, and there's a market again. So you can make good money. That livens things up. I'd love a few more years like this," begins Wouter van der Beek of Bruin Export, laughing. This Dutch company specializes in exports to Germany, France, Scandinavia, and various Eastern European destinations.
"I, too, have broken my 2018 record of paying growers €0.70. Is it realistic? I don't know; bale prices can't make up for those prices yet. Neither are exports wild at the moment. Last year, growers ran the market; this year, speculators determine the market, and growers are only happy to join in. All the information apps and stock quotes obviously help. As soon as you mainly begin quoting on the market's upper end, you get these kinds of effects."
"The growers are done selling their products at rock bottom prices. Thanks to growers, all products' prices, whether grain, beets, or potatoes, are increasing. The agricultural sector will have to get used to the fact that the time when everything was done for nothing is behind us. We have to ensure the whole chain earns. That's already affecting the next season. Contracts are now being concluded at much higher base levels of €0.14 to €0.16 off land, with the industry also agreeing to great prices," says Wouter.
Wouter van der Beek of Bruin Export.
"That leaves a bitter taste in some people's mouths because, the whole year, there's been hardly any margin between seller and buyer. We pay more to growers than we get in the bale. If you get in too late, you'll lag all season. And you can't really catch up, either. You may have to jump in at €0.70 plus. You can't easily run out of onions. You can still find free market onions, although that supply's becoming increasingly scarce. It seems to me there are more onions than everyone thinks. Those onions already have a destination but haven't yet been processed. That's not uncommon for this time of year."
Will that magic one-euro mark be reached? "For the supers, I certainly don't rule that out. There have been weeks when prices rose €0.20. There's a ceiling somewhere, but only time will tell where that is. These high prices are also shrinking the world. We must remain realistic and not let the current situation overshadow our competitiveness,” warns Wouter. “I expect global onion growers to anticipate this situation. Countries like Egypt, Morocco, Australia, New Zealand, and perhaps China know their way around now and can also transverse the globe with peeled and frozen products. Every week, more new onions are being grown worldwide."
"This year, red onions lag behind the yellow ones, but their prices are still excellent. As soon as we get orders for the small sizes, most of those onions’ issues will be ironed out too. But red onions aren't experiencing the same bubble as yellow ones. The onions' quality’s good, but for sorters, the bar is significantly lower. They accept far more problem onions than ever before. The Eastern European peelers are willing to put more work into the onions too. Our advantage is that we serve an expansive customer base, from supermarkets to peelers. We do that with onions, carrots, and cabbage," Wouter concludes.
For more information:
Wouter van der Beek
De Kil 46
8255 RR Swifterbant
Tel.: +31 (0)6 542 022 42