A depressed onion market

“The onion market is depressed at this time,” says Jerry Baker with Baker Packing out of Ontario, Oregon. “We have an excellent quality storage crop in Idaho and Oregon and storage volumes are adequate,” he added. 

Early Mexican imports hurt
However, the market is pressured by onion imports from Mexico that came in about three to four weeks earlier than normal. Peruvian sweet onions are also still coming in, which doesn’t help either. “These factors together have dipped the market to a level where yellow jumbo’s run at $4.50-$5 per 50 lb. bag. Medium reds are about the same price and Jumbo reds are $5.50,” shared Baker. “We hope Mexico will wind up earlier, but even that remains to be seen.”
“This year, all onion growing countries had good production due to excellent weather around the world,” said Baker. “The great growing conditions everywhere have resulted in an oversupply and it would take a weather event somewhere for the onion market to become decent.”
Plantings are behind
Plantings for the new season in Idaho/Oregon are about 2-3 weeks behind because of the severe winter in the area. Normally, planting starts about now, but there is still snow on the ground. The snow will have to melt and the ground needs to dry up before planting can take place.
“The onion market is a mess,” says Brandon Calandri with Antelope Distributing. Just to give an example, Mexican growers are selling medium white onions into the Mexico City market for $2.50/ 50 lb. bag and Mexico distributes onions to the LA Produce Market for $8/50 lb. bag. 
Australian onion market shut down for the US
“The future of the North American onion market is looking very bleak,” Calandri shared. “First of all, Australia used to be a significant importer of onions from the US. However, through seed breeding and the development of new varieties, the country is now able to grow red onions year-round, except for a 4-6 week gap. In other words, the Australian onion market has shut down for the US, which is heavy.”
In addition, Egypt and Israel have added lots of onion production. In the past, markets like Dubai and Kuwait would purchase US onions, but now no longer need the US.
New and efficient storage facilities in Pacific Northwest
“Domestically, next year’s market is looking very bleak as well,” said Calandri. “In Idaho and Oregon, more than 30 onion storage facilities collapsed from snow this winter. These companies will receive tax-free insurance money to replace their buildings and will build modern and efficient facilities,” predicts Calandri. 
Publication date: 3/6/2017
Author: Pieter Boekhout
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com