Brandon Calandri of Calandri Sonrise Farms, Steve Gill of Gills Onions, and Anthony Mazzuca of Tanimura & Antle Discuss Current Onion Market
UNITED STATES & MEXICO - As we wrap up the summer months and move into fall, onion growers are reporting a strengthening market, especially on reds, as they gear up for "storage" onions. The prolonged heat in the Northwest has contributed to the shortage in supply, which could signify higher prices on the horizon.
Brandon Calandri, CEO of Lancaster, CA-based Calandri Sonrise Farms and Antelope Distributing, Inc., tells me that the summer has been a challenge for his red onion acreage in Quincy, Washington.
“The excessive and prolonged heat for about 6 weeks proved challenging within our crop,” Brandon tells me. “In some areas, growers even saw temperatures reach into the hundreds. Down in Southern California, we are used to dealing with triple digits. Yellow onions, which we also grow in Quincy, are much more hardy compared to red and did not experience the same level of volume issues.”
Luckily, companies like Calandri have different distribution systems to help mitigate issues during moments like this with operations throughout the Northwest and California.
Steve Gill, Co-Founder of Gills Onions, also seconded the tighter onion supplies this year, which he attributes to the heat across the Northwest. “Reds, and even in some cases yellows, are tight from what I have observed. In addition to finishing early in the Northwest this year, the market has been seeing smaller sizes as well, which is affecting yields.”
Smaller sizes occur when the heat stunts the growth cycle, which may not affect quality so much as the size. Steve notes that there are more jumbos than colossals in the market this year, and some growers have seen sizes up to 25% smaller onions in the Northwest.
“The California Crop was pretty close to normal this year, which has helped keep product in the market,” Steve adds. “Across the country there have been issues with consistency and I anticipate there may be some upcoming fluctuations in the market.”
Onion Commodity Manager, Anthony Mazzuca for Tanimura & Antle, tells me that Texas/Mexico had their challenges this year due to wet weather.
“The previous year's storage program ended with only the California onion crop to supply pent up demand. The high market throughout the California deal reflected the shortage and supply was quickly cleaned up,” Anthony says.
The Northwest stepped in with good initial volume (specifically smaller sizes), which drove markets lower he also noted, explaining that the reality is that smaller onions means smaller yields, and that there is a real shortage of JBO or greater onions, that has started to set in.
“While the market on MED onions has not reacted yet, we expect it to trail, but follow the JBO or greater market UP as customers search from cheaper alternatives on rising markets,” Anthony adds.
Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to bring you market updates from across the industry.