Gigantic volumes of onions were sent to Africa in the first phase of the season, but it's a lot calmer at the moment. According to Teun Paarlberg of exporter G. Sevenhuysen from Warmenhuizen this is because huge risks were taken by exporters who gave credit. "They exported first and then went after their money. The Africans continued to order, but now various exporters are wondering where their money is. This is why it has become a lot calmer. We ourselves aren't a big Africa export, we work on a basis of partial advance payment and have no outstanding bills in Africa."
According to Teun the African market is reasonably overwhelmed by the low prices at the start of the season. We did quite a lot in Brazil at the beginning of the season, but when the onion price here started to rise that market dropped out almost completely. The same happened to the export to Central America and the Middle East. It was going quite well at the start of the season, until the onion prices were put up 30-40%. The growers were blamed for the higher prices, but we believe a number of large packagers shook up the prices. This has caused a negative spiral. Which is a shame because we were on our way to getting rid of a large store of onions."
"Ultimately, we will have a problem if Africa buys less onions. You can see that the prices are beginning to slide to a level around 12/13 cents per bale. We have enough work, but the real hectic period we have in August and September, is over," says Teun. On the the long term he has sombre outlooks for the onion export season. "Senegal traditionally closes in February. The East Block has enough onions and Russia won't be on the market. The Far East will order until December/January but will then partially fall out. And the Middle East is receiving almost no onions, as they are supplied by Iran and surrounding countries. Central America will be over soon, although Brazil might pick back up again with lower prices for great quality. We're holding our breath for the long term."
For more information:
Teun PaarlbergG. Sevenhuysen V.O.F.
1749 DR Warmenhuizen