Onion and potato markets continue to struggle with too much product and not enough outlets.
While more of both are moving through retail channels in the past month during stay-at-home orders across the country, it’s not enough to make up for the loss of foodservice and institutions.
Onions and potatoes have seen a surge in consumer demand at retail for their versatility, storage properties and comfort food status.
Unfortunately, some growers are making news for dumping product or making huge donations since the market is oversupplied.
TOTAL VOLUME FOR CONVENTIONAL YELLOW ONION, FROM FEBRUARY 17TH THROUGH APRIL 15th
In mid-February, yellow onions saw a steady market, very similar to the market behavior of 2018 and 2019.
Volume peaked in mid-March when consumers across the country began stay-at-home orders, and then from the middle of March the trend has been consistently downward, with no bottom reached yet but perhaps one approaching in upcoming days, said Raúl López, an agronomist at Agtools.
Blue Book has teamed with Agtools Inc., the data analytic service for the produce industry, to look at a handful of crops and how they’re adjusting in the market during the pandemic.
VOLUME BY GROWING REGION
Five regions account for almost 85% of the volume: Washington – 34 percent, Mexico – 17 percent, Idaho – 17 percent, Texas – 10 and Oregon – 7.5 percent.
Almost all regions were steady through the middle of February, except for Mexico which had a significant increase until the middle of March, and Texas which increased significantly almost for the entire month, Lopez said. However, all regions decreased drastically during the second half of March and demand almost disappeared for all regions, except in Washington, which appears steady based on the latest data.
PRICES F.O.B. FOR YELLOW ONIONS 50 LBS SACK JUMBO SIZE
The F.O.B. price graph shows a comparison of 2020 versus 2019 between the three largest regions. During March 2020, prices were considerably lower than 2019, even without the effect of the pandemic.
Prices rose slightly during the middle of March, especially the product from Mexico, and then came the drop in all three regions, which remains today, Lopez said.
POTATOES, RUSSET VARIETY
TOTAL VOLUME FOR POTATOS FROM FEBRUARY 17TH THROUGH APRIL 15TH
A comparison of the last three years shows very similar potato volumes from the middle of February and early March, but 2020 gets more dramatic with a volume rise at the start of the pandemic and then faster drop off, Lopez said.
VOLUME BY MAIN REGION
The main producing regions of Russet potatoes were Idaho – 38 percent, Colorado – 17 percent, Canada – 8 percent, Washington – 7 percent, Wisconsin – 6 percent, Florida – 5 percent and North Dakota – 4 percent. Combined, these regions accounted for 86 percent of the total U.S. supply.
This graph shows a steady market for most of the main producing regions, with the exception of Idaho which had an increase during the first three weeks of March, Lopez said.
During the fourth week of March, all regions showed a negative trend, and the most pronounced falls were in Idaho and Colorado.
F.O.B. PRICES FOR IDAHO ANDO COLORADO RUSSET POTATOES 50LB CARTONS SIZE 70´S
In the case of F.O.B. prices for Colorado and for Idaho, February and March of 2020 had higher prices than 2019 and 2018, Lopez said.
When the public health crisis began, prices started to decline. Today, Idaho product is less expensive than last year while Colorado potatoes are still higher than 2019. Prices are once again steady.