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Steady onion market welcomes new crop

Onions continue to prove resilient as buyers start to see more volume from the 2020-21 season.

Fresh crop supplies are available from California, Mexico and New Mexico, with Washington expected to start shipping by the end of July and Idaho-Oregon in early August.

Prices have been steady, as retail demand has been strong since the start of the pandemic, although retail year-over-year sales bumps have been coming down each month but remain about 10 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

VOLUME TOTAL, ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

When comparing April 26 to July 15 of this year, against the volumes of 2019 and 2018, we can see a very consistent volume, with an increase of 1.63 percent compared to 2019 and a decrease of 0.12 percent v. 2018, said Matt DeBoer, senior vice president of retail for Agtools Inc.

In fact, when looking at 2020 performance, it shows how stable this commodity has been when faced with a global pandemic.

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 MEXICO, ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Although we observe stability in the total volumes of all the regions producing onions, when analyzing the production imported from Mexico, we can see an increase this year of 80 percent with respect to the volume that imported last year in the same period of time, DeBoer said.

F.O.B. PRICE IN WALLA WALLA DISTRICT WASHINGTON YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL SIZE MEDIUM FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Three years of analysis of onion prices for product coming from Walla Walla, WA shows that while 2019 and 2020 have been consistent in price, the same two years are 42 percent higher than 2018, he said.

F.O.B. PRICE IN SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL SIZE MEDIUM FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Looking at New Mexico, prices this year are lower than 2019, while still ahead of 2018. Over the last six weeks, New Mexico has led all regions in terms of volume shipped, accounting for over 22 percent of the total pounds, DeBoer said. The lower pricing appears to have been beneficial since the state is up over 32 million pounds in volume vs. same time last year.

SOUTHEAST RETAIL PRICE FOR YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

In the case of the retail price for the southeast region this year, it has been a roller coaster ride, he said. Back in May, retail pricing dipped to nearly 20 cents per pound versus an average retail of just under $1 in 2019. By the middle of May, pricing continued to fluctuate, but was more consistent with the previous years.

Overall, the category continues to perform and while there have been a few ups and downs, onions have proven resilient in the face of adverse market conditions.

2020 YTD Dry Onion Summary:
While many commodities have suffered due to the pandemic, onions have held their ground. Compared to 2019, total volume shipped is down less than 1 percent. When we look regionally, Washington is the highest producer of onions accounting for 23 percent of the total market. And now many areas are beginning to ship fresh 2020-21 crop.

1. Washington 23 percent of total volume YTD
2. Mexico 13 percent
3. Idaho 11 percent
4. Texas 10 percent
5. New Mexico 9 percent

Onions continue to prove resilient as buyers start to see more volume from the 2020-21 season.

Fresh crop supplies are available from California, Mexico and New Mexico, with Washington expected to start shipping by the end of July and Idaho-Oregon in early August.

Prices have been steady, as retail demand has been strong since the start of the pandemic, although retail year-over-year sales bumps have been coming down each month but remain about 10 percent ahead of last year’s pace.

VOLUME TOTAL, ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

When comparing April 26 to July 15 of this year, against the volumes of 2019 and 2018, we can see a very consistent volume, with an increase of 1.63 percent compared to 2019 and a decrease of 0.12 percent v. 2018, said Matt DeBoer, senior vice president of retail for Agtools Inc.

In fact, when looking at 2020 performance, it shows how stable this commodity has been when faced with a global pandemic.

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 MEXICO, ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Although we observe stability in the total volumes of all the regions producing onions, when analyzing the production imported from Mexico, we can see an increase this year of 80 percent with respect to the volume that imported last year in the same period of time, DeBoer said.

F.O.B. PRICE IN WALLA WALLA DISTRICT WASHINGTON YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL SIZE MEDIUM FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Three years of analysis of onion prices for product coming from Walla Walla, WA shows that while 2019 and 2020 have been consistent in price, the same two years are 42 percent higher than 2018, he said.

F.O.B. PRICE IN SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL SIZE MEDIUM FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

Looking at New Mexico, prices this year are lower than 2019, while still ahead of 2018. Over the last six weeks, New Mexico has led all regions in terms of volume shipped, accounting for over 22 percent of the total pounds, DeBoer said. The lower pricing appears to have been beneficial since the state is up over 32 million pounds in volume vs. same time last year.

SOUTHEAST RETAIL PRICE FOR YELLOW ONIONS CONVENTIONAL FROM May 1ST THROUGH JULY 15TH

In the case of the retail price for the southeast region this year, it has been a roller coaster ride, he said. Back in May, retail pricing dipped to nearly 20 cents per pound versus an average retail of just under $1 in 2019. By the middle of May, pricing continued to fluctuate, but was more consistent with the previous years.

Overall, the category continues to perform and while there have been a few ups and downs, onions have proven resilient in the face of adverse market conditions.

2020 YTD Dry Onion Summary:
While many commodities have suffered due to the pandemic, onions have held their ground. Compared to 2019, total volume shipped is down less than 1 percent. When we look regionally, Washington is the highest producer of onions accounting for 23 percent of the total market. And now many areas are beginning to ship fresh 2020-21 crop.

1. Washington 23 percent of total volume YTD
2. Mexico 13 percent
3. Idaho 11 percent
4. Texas 10 percent
5. New Mexico 9 percent

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services