Onion MarketMarch 3, 2023
Idaho-E. Oregon/Western Oregon/Washington:
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported in on March 1 from his Salem, OR, office. “Commenting on demand is tough for the start of March,” he said. “Boy, you have a lot of onions crossing from Mexico. It could put a dent into this late part of the season for the Northwest, and really any US growing area that is shipping right now.” John continued, “I think there probably wasn’t as much shrink as was projected early on, and the sky didn’t fall quite as hard as was anticipated. But you have shippers that held over onions because they didn’t want to disappoint customers like some may have last season with the shortage, so they want to have plenty of onions to keep their customers happy. I think the key here is maintaining those strong customer relationships and keeping them happy, so they stay with you.” He said, “The fact is, the Northwest onions are in really good shape. We haven’t had any issues, and they are holding up really well. For some reason, reds coming out of Northwest, particularly Washington and Western Oregon are milder this year than normal; they look good and are in good shape too.” When asked about the market, John said it’s stable. “Despite the steady flow of Mexican onions crossing, the market seems to be stable. We’re still looking at double digits, so the market’s not bad. And as I say, the onions are still in great shape, so that’s a big plus.” John added that transportation has been easy to get. “There are plenty of trucks out there, and even with the winter storms, if truckers plan their trips right, they are making their destinations OK. Even if it takes an extra day or two, it’s not bad.”
OnionBusiness caught up with Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce as he was on the fly this week to assess the crop in Texas. He said on March 1, “I am headed to Texas today, and I will have a full report with photos next week. As for Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington demand, buyers are primarily looking for jumbo reds and yellows, and colossals this week.” Jason added, “The market isn’t doing so great. Wouldn’t you know it – we have awesome quality onions, and the market is off. Overall, the market should be higher, given the stellar quality we have. Then you take into account all the sheds that are finishing, and boy, the market should be even higher. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, weighed in on March 1, saying, “Demand this week is shaping up to be similar to the past six to eight weeks. Not real busy. Just steady business with the same customer base. Bigger onions like super colossals and colossals seem to be tight and are harder to come by. For all other sizes and colors the demand seems even across the board.” Steve said the market “has come down again this week from last week’s prices,” and he noted, “With new crop coming in and with a few sheds trying to push to finish soon we are seeing pressure on the market.” He added, “The quality and appearance have been very nice.” And he commented, “Transportation overall has been fairly easy. We have had occasional issues securing some trucks due to some major storms around us.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on March 1 the Tampico deal is “rolling right along.” He noted, “Movement is good on yellows and reds and a little slow on white, but we’re hitting on all cylinders and have all colors and sizes now,”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen told us on March 1 the Mexican deal is going well. “Quality and volume are good, and more guys are coming in as more buyers switch to new crop,” he said.
Lou Getzelman with Canyon Sales Co. on the Hunts Point Market in New York told us on March 1 he continues to move onions mostly from the Northwest, “We are still sourcing product primarily from out West, Idaho and Washington,” he said. “We’ve started out of Mexico, but not in a big way yet. But they sure do have plenty of onions.” Lou continued, “The focus has been helping our partners in Idaho finish. The quality has been excellent, and we expect most of our shippers to finish in mid- to the later part of March.” He went on to say that demand had picked up this week, noting, “Demand started out a touch stronger this week. February was not great. We had a short four-day week with President’s Day mixed in there, and then back East we had a couple of days where no one could get a load picked up because I-80 has been closed in Wyoming. It gave customers and opportunity to sell what was in their store, and now most receivers seem ready to reload. Hopefully, the weather cooperates.” Demand is still strongest for bigger onions, he said. “Big stuff is still getting a premium. There are deals to be had across all three colors right now.” Lou said the market “has been sloppy, and it could stay that way through much of March, but at these levels can you really get hurt if you have great quality?” And he added, “We are still seeing shippers push jumbo reds, and if you’re looking for a good chunk on a mixer that is an item you can build an order around and make a shipper very happy.” When asked what might causing market conditions, Lou said, “Weather played a part in the soft demand last week, and it was very tough to get orders picked up in Idaho and Washington to head East. We need to make sure these trucks are picking up. Trucks seem to be pretty easy to get down South.” Also, he said, “Buyers were hesitant to load because there has been a lot of uncertainty in the market. What is Mexico going to do? How many onions are left in Idaho? Anytime there’s uncertainty, there’s going to be speculation.” But, he said, “We’re hoping for a more promising March as we head into Easter and Passover. Hopefully, we get a little bit of a push. With prices at these levels business should be brisk.”
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading in Portland told us on March 1 his company continues to move onions out of the West and Northwest. He said, “We are still peddling the crop out of Washington and a little still in California.” Brad noted, “Demand has definitely picked up this week for us – the February fog has lifted. Generally speaking, all colors for us are moving at their normal pace, and market pricing again is steady. Retail pricing cruising along. Some deals being made based on inventories and individual shed situations.” Commenting on quality, Brad said that “issues have definitely popped up.” He continued, “Any kind of missed rotation or slow movement of finished product can lead to shelf issues. Organics just do not have the same legs as conventional. Once you wake them up from their cold slumber, they want to bolt.” About the new month, Brad said, “I feel like March will be moving month. Sheds will look to move as much as they can of any excessive storage inventory outside of contracts and commitments. The hope is to be out of the way of the Mexico/California Desert deal that starts late April.” And he said transportation is good. “Washington to California, trucks are available, and pricing is fair.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco told us on March 1 some Rio Grande Valley sheds are shipping limited volume of onions now. “Texas has had a few onions already and will have more next week,” he said about the area’s 2023 crop, which he said looks very good. “Onion House will start shipping yellows between March 25 and April 1.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen said on March 1 his Rio Grande season will kick off March 20. “The crop looks good, and we’ll have all three colors,” he said. David also said the Wintergarden area’s onions are doing well but could be looking at a somewhat later start date than normal.
Danny Ray with Ray Farms Inc. in Glennville told us on March 1 that the weather has been great for onions lately. “We’ve had 80-degree weather all week,” he said. “They are really coming up – it won’t be long now. The crop looks very good, and we are on track for the season start-up.” Danny continued, “Though there hasn’t been any official notice, I’ve been hearing that the Committee will be working on the Vidalia official start date the same way they have done in past years. As we get closer, we should have a set date; at least, that’s what I’m hearing.”
Chihuahua, Mexico/New Mexico:
James Johnson with Carzalia Valley Produce in Columbus, NM, said on March 1 his 2023 season is a bit behind. “Spring seeded onions are all in,” he said. “A few people around here are still planting. We’ve had what I thought was a mild winter, but it seems to me like the onions are a little behind for this time of year.” James said he is looking at a mid-April start date for Chihuahua, and the New Mexico season will start in late May.
From Onion Business