Featured image: Sunions photo included in a Today.com story provided to OnionBusiness as part of the Onions 52 market update by Tiffany Cruickshank, photo by Today.com (link to story below)
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Jan. 25 that the market looks to be softening. “It’s been weird for the third week in January,” he said. “With the shortage of onions, it’s hard to say why the market looks to be softening, but we are kind of immune to it. We are pacing ourselves to finish in April, and we have plenty of program business, so we are sold out every week. And it’s hard to say why the market is doing what it’s doing, but we are in good shape. Our quality is very good and has been all along, so we are in a good position to go until April when we transition to our California deal.” On transportation, Matt said, “It’s been easy to get trucks, and rates have come off too. Rates have been lower than I’ve seen them in a while.”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on Jan. 25 that business is ok this week. “We are doing fine, and business is pretty normal,” he said. “We are currently shipping out of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Michigan, and don’t forget the freight advantage out of Michigan. Buyers are looking for supers and colossals. Retail packs are doing well, and if we could drag out the yellow and white paint, medium reds would be moving better too,” Rick laughed. “For us, the market remains steady, and our position is that there is no reason to go down. Transportation has loosened up, and we’re able to get trucks easily. Quality has remained the same… very good. We have pearls too. Everything is in good shape, so let’s go! Come and get ‘em!”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, provided his report on Jan. 25. “Demand is slightly off this week, but we’re staying busy,” Paul said. “Though buyers are looking for all colors and sizes, colossals seem to be the hot items. We are doing the best we can to keep the movement of colossals going for our customers.” On the market, Paul said it’s volatile. “Mexico is starting up, and that has made the market somewhat volatile, but honestly, I just don’t think there is enough volume coming across to warrant any decrease in the market.” On transportation, Paul said, “Trucks seem to have loosened up, so that’s good. And our rail business has been steady too. Another bright spot for us is our quality. We’ve been extremely blessed to have very, very good quality this season.”
Dan Phillips with Central Produce/Eagle Eye in Payette, ID, reported in on Jan. 25. “Demand is typical for January,” he said. “It’s not super busy, but we’re getting all the business we need. It seems colossals are the hot item, but that’s probably because they are so tight. Really, the only doggie item is medium reds. For us, the market is steady, but I do hear there might be some deals out there and that may have something to do with shippers wanting to finish early. But that is not where we’re at, and it’s not the norm. For us, quality going in the bag is fantastic, and we plan to go into March. The goal is no gapping with our other areas.” On transportation, Dan said, “It seems like with lower demand, truck demand has loosened up and they are much easier to get right now.”
Chris Woo gave us an update recently, saying he’d been “busy getting onion orders out for Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, which was celebrated on Jan. 22 and culminates with the Lantern Festival om Feb. 5. “It is a time to reflect on the past year and to make resolutions for the new one,” he said. “We spend time with friends and family eating and drinking. “And all that celebrating is “besides selling storage onions of all three colors at stable and competitive pricing,” Chris added. “We had three inches of fresh snow this past week filling up our dams and reservoirs even more with much needed water for the 2023 crop and beyond.”
Tiffany Cruickshank with Onions 52’s Vale, OR, office shared a great Sunions piece with us on Jan. 25. Tearless, sweet Sunions, which are a part of O 52’s lineup, are the focal point of a fun feature at https://www.today.com/food/groceries/sunions-tearless-onions-test-rcna67024 . And Tiffany said, “Additionally, you can find me at the Global Organic Produce Expo next week in Booth 116 in Hollywood, FL.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, told us on Jan. 25 he’ll have Tampico onions starting Monday or Tuesday. “It’ll be the full meal deal out of Mexico next week, with good volume hitting midweek,” he said. All colors will be available from the jump, and Don Ed said sizes are running jumbo to colossal. “Yields are really good, and quality is fantastic,” he said. “It’s an onion year for them and looks like it will be for South Texas as well.”
Shuman Farms in Reidsville, GA, reported to us in a Jan. 19 release that with its vertically integrated facilities and farmer partnerships in Peru, its shipments of Peruvian Sweet onions represent “the largest volume in the industry,” contributing not only to a positive impact on the Port of Savannah but also to the local economy of Georgia and that of the Southern United States. Shuman Farms said it has “promotable supplies of premium sweet onions to meet all of our retail partners’ needs.”
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading Co. in Portland, OR, told us on Jan. 24 that demand this week is “truly steady but slow.” He said, “It’s been a slow January, and I always get surprised by it but then remember it happens every year.” Brad added, “The white deal is getting tighter for USA crop. Some Mexican organic whites are starting to cross.” The market, he said, “seems to be ok. There are certainly deals being made, but I feel like we are just chasing the same orders. Program business remains good and steady.” He noted that there have been a few quality issues out of storage, saying, “Some of these onions have been around since August/September with no preservatives. The sheds are doing a good job of cleaning them up.” And he said, “We are getting to the time of year end users cannot sit on product as long.” Brad said there are now “smaller orders more frequently.” As far as overall January business, he said it’s been a “typical slow January when we were hoping for a spike in business.” Transportation availability and pricing are “a lot better than this time last year on WA to CA route.”
Our thanks to Robert Bell with Western Onion in Camarillo for this Chinese New Year centerpiece photo. Robert said an intern from Taiwan is currently working in the Western Onion office and created the beautiful piece.
Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco told us on Jan. 25 S. Texas could come in earlier than originally thought. “We’ve got a really pretty crop,” he said. “If it keeps going like it’s been, we could have onions between March 10 and 15. They’re coming quite a bit quicker than we first expected.” The RGV crop generally runs from mid-March through mid-May.
Imperial Valley/Bakersfield CA:
Matt Murphy with L&M Cos. in Raleigh, NC, told us on Jan. 25 the company’s Imperil Valley crop is coming along nicely. “Our Calipatria crop is looking great,” he said. “We have had good growing weather, and if all goes according to plan, we anticipate getting started there between April 15 and 20. For our California program in Bakersfield, we are planting for the second half of the summer there, and we had a little delay in planting in Bakersfield so we may get started a week later, but we’ll have the same acreage and we expect a great summer onion season.”
Shuman Farms in Reidsville, GA, told us on Jan. 19 a recent cold wave in the SE should not cause widespread damage to the 2023 Vidalia crop. “Over the Christmas holiday, record low temperatures swept through much of the United States, including Southeast Georgia,” a company release said. “After assessing the Vidalia crop over the past few weeks, we feel optimistic about the upcoming season. The crop is still in its early stages, and therefore damage should be minimal.”