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Onion Expert

The Perfect Storm?

Shay Myers - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This is going to be an interesting report. I want to lay out all the factors that are coming in to play with the onion market.


  • First, supplies started out lower due to inclement weather in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington during the 2013 storage crop season. Yields were down somewhere between 15 and 20% (that is about 10,600 loads)


  • Second, shrink is up 10-15% (that is about 7,500 loads) due to storage problems attributed to the high amounts of rain that fell on the same NW crop.


  • Export demand to Asia and Latin-America has been higher than “normal”. NW onion exports are up 20% over last year (that is 1,357 loads).


  • Mexican exports into the USA that normally starts in mid-late January have been virtually non-existent. As of this writing Mexico has shipped 89% fewer loads when compared with last year (that is 1,176 loads).


  • As much as 80% (that is 1,800 loads) of Washington’s and Oregon’s over-winter crop has been destroyed due to harsh winter conditions. While these loads are not marketed until mid-late summer, they are primarily used to supply area processors. Not having this supply available will force processors, who also fresh pack, to reduce the number of onions they sell on the fresh market now.


Additional factors abound, but they are of a more speculative at this time. If we use the “hard numbers” above we could be short over 22,000 loads. Although this may seem too high, for argument sake we can cut the number in half to 11,000 loads and still see the ramifications. This number represents nearly 2 months of consumption of the entire USA!

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