Onion production circumvents lower prices

The present pricing of $5.00 FOB for jumbo yellow onions is lower than average in comparison to last year’s price at $8.50. Prices tend to vary, however all are reasonable for increased onion promotion and usage. Although the onion market is usually somewhat higher than presently priced, nationwide onion production areas are slightly above average offering more onions without a large increase in acreage. 

The Idaho-Oregon region is one of the largest volume shippers within the United States supplying 40% of the US onion consumption from September to March with the peak of the season occurring between August and October.  “90% of our crop is jumbo yellow onions; the remaining 10% consists of white and red. During peak season we can receive up to 350 (25,000lb) trucks per day,” explains Chris Woo of Murakami Produce. “We export to Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Panama, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. The amount we export depends on if a country is experiencing lower than average onion production, then they come to us.”

Potandon, a conglomerate company of Murakami Produce, sources potatoes and onions from over 80 co-packers in 25 states and 4 Canadian provinces. However there are several states which compete within the onion market. “In the United State we compete with Washington, Colorado, New York, California, Western Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio,” states Woo. “We also compete on an international market with Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, China, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, and India.”

The onion industry is constantly implementing new initiatives. “We have newer packing lines being brought in from Europe and Australia to pack more efficiently and cost reduction.” Murakami Produce’s current packing capacity is 1500-50# bags an hour. They also run the only storage location governed by federal marketing order. “We have over 250,000 square feet of insulated storage which houses 75,000 bins, each with the capacity to hold 1500# bulk onions.”

Idaho-Oregon region‘s mixture of soil type, amount of sunlight and longitudinal-latitudinal location causes onions to grow large, and adds a unique flavor. Adding to consumers’ enjoyment of onion consumption is the knowledge that their produce is completely safe. “Our local onion crop production, our growers’ cultural practices, our packaging and shipping protocol is heavily scrutinized by third party audits, USDA and certified onion inspections from the ground to the bulb to the packing shed to the shipping process.”    

Source: Fresh Plaza 10-12-2014