Onion movement and pricing likely to pick up

Supplies of onions continue to be plentiful as storage crop volume continues to be available while new growing regions are coming on as well.

On storage crop onions, the market is holding steady but lower than was anticipated in the fall of 2022. John Harris of Paradigm Fresh says there was hope going into the end of the month that the market would rise. However given what’s still available out of markets such as Canada, which will probably ship into June, that may not happen.

Here’s a look at other growing regions:

Texas: “The Texas crop is coming along just fine. There are a few Texas onions already going but they’ll be in full swing here in probably two to three weeks,” says Harris.

Georgia: Georgia is early this year. Harris says Georgia’s season would typically be for volume on April 15th--however, the state should begin around the first part of April.

California: “Southern California is late and it usually starts the third week of April and it’s probably going to be the first week of May this year. It’s been cool and wet so that’s not a surprise,” says Harris.

Mexico: Mexico was early this year with some onions on the market as early as Thanksgiving, something Harris says he’s never seen. “Volume started coming towards the end of January and it’s steadily picked up from there,” says Harris, noting last week nearly 600 loads crossed. “Probably over the course of the next two weeks is the height of the Mexican season.”  

He adds that when shipments from Mexico are this high, the market volatility is also high and the market in Mexico has had some significant fluctuations over the last several weeks.

As for colors, yellow Mexican import onions have been tight though there’s good availability on larger sizes. Harris notes that the domestic market on mediums and jumbos also has good availability though supplies are tighter on colossal and supers.

On white onions, the domestic market continues to be steady with good supplies while the Mexican market, which has ample availability, has seen big fluctuations in price over the last several weeks.

On reds, that’s also been a volatile market from Mexico. Supplies are good and pricing has softened in the last week while domestically, quality is good and that availability has put pressure on the market.  

Add to these ample supplies the sluggish demand for onions. “February is slow for the produce business in general. It starts warming up as we get towards the first of March and there are lots of options for onions at this time of year,” says Harris. “Not only are there a lot of options but there’s a push to move them because there are so many options.”

Harris points out that while the U.S. is a sizeable producer of onions, it’s also a net importer bringing in product from Canada, Mexico, Egypt (via Canada), Peru and more. “Our domestic production was way down this year but other areas in the world were not,” he says, noting for example that Canada and Mexico both had good crops.

This means that pricing is not where it was expected to be. “It’s a bit depressed right now. The market isn’t terrible--it’s certainly profitable but just barely. We had a better market in the fall than we do now,” he says. “We’ll see this market upswing. I think we’ll get an uptick in movement in early April because of Easter and we’ll see the market pick up when California gets in there.”

For more information:
John Harris
Paradigm Fresh
Tel: +1 (970) 775.2049

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