This site's reporting on the Dutch onion market has been somewhat gloomy recently. However, Lindert Moerdijk, a self-proclaimed eternal optimist, sees the situation positively. "Sure, we're not moving massive volumes, but with the 15,000 tons of onions we still have to export weekly, that's unnecessary. Also, there are shortages across Europe. It just seems that only the farmers are aware of that this year," he begins.
"The main point is that, in the Netherlands, we have a weekly sorting capacity of about 40,000 tons. That means quite a few people have spare time and capacity. But the sector must face this together. Growers must make money, as must packers. That's where our future lies. I find the starting position much more positive than last year."
"Africa has continued longer than usual and is still buying, partly due to the early Ramadan. The European processor stocks are much lower than last year. MSP Onions exported 37% more within Europe in January. Since Europe drives the second half of our season, we're looking forward to the coming weeks," says Lindert.
"However, this year, the onions' quality is concerning. You really have to look hard to find truly good onions. These issues mean prices differ vastly between good and bad onions. The industry keeps the bottom of the price stable, so we, as packers, have to aim for higher bale prices."
When we saw the quality problems coming at the start of the season, we immediately switched to using innovative production process solutions, like robots that clean the starter and Flikweert Vision Dividers that remove clumps and stones from the product stream. "The lesser quality batches thus don't affect us. Also, customers noticed the difference between traditional processors and our programmed quality early this year," Lindert explains.
"That's something of which we're genuinely proud. Clients can attest to the good quality: internal, external, size, and even weight per onion. We plan to add a big bag-filling capacity this quarter. And we've further developed the Eqontrol software in our factory, so the few operators now even have spare time."
Next week, MSP Onions will be at Fruit Logistica (Hall 27 - E64). "That remains a low-threshold, efficient way to meet many buyers and partners," says Moerdijk. "A lot of business came out of it last year. This year, we especially hope to speak to Dutch and European retailers who want the best quality onions and special size sorting."
The MSP Onions team - Lijn Moerdijk, Albert Vonk, Lindert Moerdijk, and Jacco Weststrate - at Fruit Logistica 2023
"In particular, (East) European supermarket and wholesaler suppliers are looking for distinctive, high-quality, sustainable end products. "The excuse that that has an inferior quality due to a difficult growing season should become redundant. At MSP, the quality is always good," Lindert concludes.