It should be a year of strong pricing. This is what John Harris of Paradigm Fresh says of the onion crop underway across North America.
“The industry is waiting on Idaho-Eastern Oregon to come online which is anticipated to happen with real volume on September 6th,” says Harris, adding he can’t remember the last time that kind of volume was this late out of the region. He does note that Idaho-Eastern Oregon is three to four weeks behind last year at this time thanks to early spring weather.
In turn, this is putting pressure on Washington’s onion supplies. “This means that while there’s not more demand than usual, there is more demand in that one specific place than usual,” he says.
That said, Idaho-Eastern Oregon is approximately 20-25 percent off on tonnage for the season and should have all three colors of onions available, though the area is not a typical white onion supplier.
Washington’s production is underway already though curing white onions is slower this year. Harris also notes that while the early quality on Washington onions is average, as longer day onions are harvested and longer drying times happen, quality will improve.
Red onions are ample in supply and yellow onions have higher than average markets right now. White onion pricing reflects the slimmer supplies.
Colorado has also started harvest which is showing good quality onions, though lighter volumes for now. This should change after Labor Day. Michigan and Wisconsin will also start with yellow onions after Labor Day while New York’s onion harvest is also underway currently.
“Like New York, Canada has full supplies right now but without that major growing area of Idaho-Eastern Oregon, there’s more pressure on that market which is evident in high pricing for this time of year,” says Harris. “Canada is also off on tonnage. They have a small crop in size, not acreage, so that will affect tonnage.”
Harris notes that for the next two weeks, the market is going to continue with strong pricing. “Probably by the second week in September, after Labor Day and after Idaho-Eastern Oregon has four days under their belt, they’ll start shipping in a way that we expect them to,” he says. In turn, prices will also cool off.
The strong pricing Harris predicts for the year comes largely due to demand. “Demand on onions is as good as it’s ever been in the 20 years I’ve been in this business and we expect that to continue through the fall and into the winter months,” he says. “We should have a strong storage season market until there’s an opportunity for it to change again when Mexico starts in February.”