Featured image: Tampico, MX area crop progress – photo courtesy of David DeBerry, January 4, Nowell Borders, Southwest Onion Growers.
Rick Greener with Greener Produce in Ketchum, ID, told us on January 4, “Demand is picking back up this week.” He said, “Monday was bad, but yesterday and today, things are starting to move again. Buyers are restocking retail shelves and looking for big onions too. Anything in a true jumbo and higher is really moving well.” And he added, “Now, you need to be careful. If you are paying low prices for large onions, you probably need to ask for a bag count because you aren’t getting a true jumbo. It’s probably a small jumbo, and if you’re cool with that, fine, but pricing on big onions is NOT low!” He continued, “I’m getting larger onions out of Idaho, Utah, and Oregon and shipping overall to include Washington, Michigan, and North Dakota.” He said, “Quality has been great in all areas.” He noted no real change in the market. He said, “It’s firm and holding steady. Some are out there talking it down, but honestly, I don’t see it going south.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported in on January 4. “Truthfully, holiday demand seemed a little off over past years, but it was still very successful,” Jason said. “This week, demand has been decent. Buyers are looking for yellows and reds in all sizes, but they want the big stuff. If you have Colossals and Supers, you won’t have trouble moving them.” When asked about the market, Jason said, “It took a little dip earlier in the week, and I have absolutely no idea why. With the shortage of onions, it should be moving upward, and I think we should still see an increase there in the weeks ahead.” Jason noted EEP’s quality is good. “Onion quality out of Washington and Eastern Oregon continues to be very good,” he said. “Truck availability has been good. They are expensive, but we have been able to get them just fine.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on January 4, demand has been fair this week. “I’m sure a few customers need to play catch up with inventory over the holidays.” Steve said demand has been fairly even across the board on all sizes and colors. The slowest moving item has been medium reds.” The market, he said, “has been fairly steady so far this week.” Quality has been very good, and Steve said, “The appearance looks nice.” Noting that “the holiday business wasn’t much different than the previous weeks,” Steve said, “Business as usual. Historically we see an uptick in business in the first few weeks of January. Not sure if you can rely on historically trends this season.” On transportation, Steve said, “Transportation is still a little tight as trucks try to get back into their normal flow after the holidays! Hopefully, after this week, things will be back to normal with trucks.”
Joshua Frederick with Snake River Produce in Nyssa, OR, weighed in on January 4, saying, “Things after Christmas have been nonstop for demand here at SRP. There seems to more of a demand lately for medium reds and medium yellows verses what’s been the opposite from previous weeks.” He went on to say, “I am sure the price difference has been the leading factor with markets reflecting about a double in price for jumbo’s verses mediums. With that said big onions still remain a hot commodity if you’re sitting with any Col or Super Col Yellows but for the season.” Josh continued, “With what’s left of our crop (BIG ONION WISE) we will be able to keep our customers supplied with the quantity needed to fulfill mixers only for the remainder of the season. We are targeting to be done by the end of February. The short 4-day weeks from Christmas and New Year has made for great work getting orders filled along with some rail cars finally be spotted to load.” Looking at the market, he said, “Markets shouldn’t see a dip in quality and size and should see a gradual increase due to supplies for the remainder of this season’s crop. (Then the USDA report comes out at 2 P.M., and it’s like, who is reporting this stuff) We will continue working towards finishing strong for the demand generally coming these next few weeks to refill the pipeline across this Great Nation. Hard to believe we are 70 days away from putting seed in the ground for next season’s 2023 crop. And the cost of goods to farm continues to exceed higher every day. Just look at it this way if eggs are now $8.00 plus a dozen, there is no reason onions shouldn’t be $15.00 to $20.00 a sack.” Josh went on to say, “It’s not going to get any cheaper in ANY WAY to continue to grow and harvest in the future! The doubling of cost in fuel and fertilizer along with seed and labor has no end in sight, and this is why I will continue to stand on my soapbox about keeping the market at a steady pace.” And Josh said, “You pay for what you get at the end of the day!”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, shared his thoughts on January 4, saying, “Happy New Year to everyone, but what a circus to start the year with! The House is a frustrating front and so too is our marketing strategy. I am puzzled why we would come back after two holiday weeks heading into the last portion of our season and on day one sees that our USDA market report shows all red letters market lower on some items! ” He continued, “We have less onions now than we have had at any point in our season and demand is as steady as it has been. If we wanted to spur some excitement we should have done what our customers were hoping for and expecting, move up! That being said we have had steady demand this week at our previous prices and haven’t moved down at all. In terms of what is left for the season, our Utah shed is down to approximately 20 production days and will call it a season.” He said, “All of our Idaho facilities will be finished up in March at this level of movement. If it were to pick up at all then that would come sooner. In all cases these facilities are shortening their seasons by at least a month of normal! This deal should be higher and certainly not showing any weakness. Like the new majority in the house, we need to get our act together and get to work for our farms and growers.”
Paul Reeping with Riverfront Produce in Payette, ID, told us on January 4 that demand is better this week. “Demand is much better this week than it was last week,” Paul said. “Buyers are looking for yellows and reds, but large reds seem to have a little bit hotter demand this week. Quality continues to be excellent and the market seems to have firmed up. The holiday pull was less than what we expected but we do feel positive going into the new year.” Paul noted, “With demand getting off to a good start, we should see volume increase in the weeks ahead.” When asked about transportation, Paul said availability is good. “Truck availability has been good and we don’t anticipate that will change.”
Colorado Western Slope/Utah:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on January 4 his Colorado and Corinne, UT, deals will be done this week. “We are all but finished in Colorado and Utah,” he said. “We have some on the floor that we will have cleaned up tomorrow and now we are just waiting on our Mexico crop.” Don Ed commented on his upcoming Mexico program and its covered under our CROP section.
Brad Sumner with Pacific Coast Trading Co. in Portland, OR, told us on January 4 that “Slow but steady. It’s the Holiday hangover.” He said no one size or color is doing better than another. “Whites seem to be harder to come by, especially with good quality.” On the market, he said, “It seems steady, but there are deals out there. It is goes case by case, shed by shed.” He added a note on quality, “Some normal storage issues, but these sheds know how it handle.” Brad commented on the holidays, “What do you expect for the first of the year? Hoping for a better January than December… Christmas was off in my opinion.” Looking to transportation, Brad said “Trucks are more abundant and a little cheaper for my lanes.”
Texas Rio Grande Valley/Tampico, Mexico:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on January 4 the South Texas and Tampico crops are coming along very well. “We are waiting to start up our Tampico program and we’ll start with limited volume later this month.” The Tampico region has had very good growing weather, and Don Ed said, “We’ll start out with sweets, and then heavier volumes should start moving the first part of February, with most of the onion movement out of our Tampico operation going February and March.” Don Ed said the Texas crop is coming along nicely. “The weather has been very good. We expect some lower temperatures this week, but it’s been very nice weather with highs in the 80s, so the crop should be in good shape come harvest.” And he added, “Right now, we are expected to start up in Texas around the third to last week in March.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in McAllen, TX, told us on January 4 he and his growers in Mexico are very excited about the upcoming season, and he said, “We will get our Tampico program going the week of the 16th and we are very excited about this season’s crop.” The weather never did get too cold, he said, “it never did get below 50 and the highs were in the 80s so the onions did very well.” He said, “So we are ready to go, and there’s no stopping us now!” David continued, “We’ll start out with yellows. Then we’ll add whites a week later, and reds a week after that. By the time we are into February, we will be shipping all colors and going full steam. There’s no looking back; like I said, there’s no stopping us now.” Many thanks to David for the featured image and additional Tampico, Mexico onion photos taken January 4, featuring Nowell Borders, Southwest Onion Growers. Click image to enlarge and scroll.