Market and Crop Update for September 23, 2021 – Onion Business

Featured image: organic onions from Cuyama. CA, courtesy of Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo, CA

Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said to us on Sept. 22 his Colorado and Corinne, UT, deals are going well. “Onion market is on fire,” he said. “We’re running well at Olathe, and the guys are storing in Utah. All is good.”

David DeBerry with Southwest Onions in McAllen, TX, said on Sept. 22, “Everything is going 100 mph in Colorado. Weather is wonderful, and the markets are the best in about a generation.” He added, “Production is above average, and quality is superior. We’ll have intermediates for another 16 or 17 days and then start coming out of storage on Oct. 10 with all three colors all the way through.”

Matt Murphy with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, gave his report on Sept. 22. “We are seeing unprecedented demand for this time of year,” he said. “We are shipping out of Warden, WA, Rocky Ford, CO, and Ulysses, KS, and demand in all areas is off the charts! Demand for whites isn’t quite as strong, and the medium supplies are more abundant, but demand for larger-sized onions is extremely heavy, so that is pulling up the market, and on jumbos, too. That includes jumbo reds. Demand for those is crazy.” When asked about demand and the market moving forward, Matt said, “I’m not one to predict anything in this business. All I know is I’ve never seen a September quite like this one.” On quality, Matt said, “Our onion quality is very good. We are into our storage stuff in Warden, and the onions look really nice and well-cured. Our Kansas and Colorado crops are fresher, but also look really nice.” He continued, “I will say that transportation seems to be getting worse. Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. We do have an easier time out of our Kansas and Colorado operations because we aren’t competing for trucks with other commodities as much, but out of the Northwest, transportation continues to be rough.”

Washington, Oregon, Idaho:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported to us on Sept. 22 from his Salem, OR, sales office. “Demand is good this week, but we just can’t get enough onions to fill all the orders,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in the larger sized onion, but medium demand is starting to get better. Now that California is cleaned up and they aren’t selling mediums, I think we will start seeing more interest for smaller onions, but for now, everyone wants the larger onions, and that has positively affected the market, too.” He added, “Honestly, a boost in the market is really needed. Between the labor shortage, the cost of materials, unnecessary certifications… you name it, the increased costs are killing these growers. Together with the lingering economic effects of the pandemic, some of these folks just aren’t going to make it. So if we happen to get a shot in the arm here on the market, it is totally well-deserved. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out as the season progresses.”

Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum told us on Sept. 22 that he and his team are selling onions out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado, and some out of Michigan. “Well, demand is good for everything but mediums,” Rick said. “There are plenty of supplies of the smaller stuff, but jumbos in reds and yellows are tight. You can get some colossals, but supers are almost non-existent.” He continued, “It’s hard to remember a September demand like this one. Consequently, the market is very strong right now. All I can recommend to buyers is to pre-plan your purchases, AND don’t hem and haw on the price, and don’t hang up the phone, or you might not get the order you want. Also, moving forward, pay close attention to red volumes and availability. Finally, if there ever was a year you wanted to get your customers adjusted to using a medium over a jumbo, this is the year to year to do it.” Rick concluded with a note on transportation, “Transportation continues to be an issue,” he said. “We hearing $4 a mile to the West Coast, and we aren’t even close to holiday shipments yet. Even more of a reason to pre-plan your orders.”

Idaho-E. Oregon:
Dan Phillips with Central Produce/Eagle Eye in Payette, ID, told us on Sept. 22 that demand for larger-sized reds and yellows is good this week. “Demand is extremely good for jumbo reds and yellows,” Dan said. “Supplies are a little tight right now, but we are loading everything we can. The market is strong and pushing up, and that probably will continue.” He continued, “And our quality is also good.” Dan said that transportation “continues to be a struggle, but we are loading flatbeds and will continue to as long as the weather permits.”

Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, weighed in with some thoughts on Sept. 22. He said, “The market continues to go up, but our farm costs are still outpacing the increases.  Inflation and tight supply chains continue to dominate the storyline from our farming and packing operations.” Dwayne continued, “I had a person tell me yesterday that onions were getting expensive. I laughed and said tell me what else you can buy for 26 to 44 cents per pound?  Onions continue to be the most value-added product on a per pound basis in the vegetable category! Then take that 20 percent or more of our crop that is selling for 10 cents a pound, and you realize how off-base that comment is!” He said, “On the marketing desks we have to continue to do better in terms of communicating what we deem as a strong market this year and in the future. I had another positive customer tell me this week it is nice to not be purchasing cheap onions at prices he paid 20 years ago.” And, he said, “We have started permanent storage in all of our locations this week, and quality going in looks great. Yields continue to be consistent, consistently way off normal projections. In terms of production through the shed, we are really going to have to limit that the next few weeks in order to focus on storage.” He went on to say, “We are extremely grateful for the teams we have at each of our locations that are showing up and working countless hours to ensure that we have product to sale and onions in the barns.” And, he concluded, “One last item: it is critical that we come together as American growers and not allow foreign imports to weaken our market, even when we are seeing pricing strength.  Now is not the time to stop addressing this issue.  On our NOA DC trip this summer we told our story, demonstrated the numbers from the government’s own reporting system and presented our grievances.  We can’t stop telling our story and demanding changes just because the market looks a little more positive.”

California Central Valley:
Our thanks to Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo, CA, for the super photos of organic onions from Cuyama. Perfect-o ring-os!

Source: Fresh Plaza