John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office this week and expressed that demand has slowed down. “I have been shipping out of Washington right now,” he said. “I haven’t been shipping out of Idaho/Oregon for about two weeks. Business was crazy busy earlier, and while it’s still good, demand has dropped off. Foodservice demand is zero and everyone in retail wants mediums because they want to sell three and five pounders so consumers don’t have to handle the produce. It’s that way with potatoes, too.” John continued, “We all know that onions are peeled and often cooked, so it shouldn’t matter, but it’s a perception thing I guess.” And, he said, “If there is anything that is positive that has come from this situation, it’s that the mad dash for product has really helped out the storage guys here at the end when they really needed it.” On transportation, John said it’s a “non-issue.” He said, “Everything is flowing smoothly there.”
Jason Pearson with Eagle Eye Produce in Nyssa, OR, reported that the market this week remains steady. “Last week, we couldn’t keep up with the demand,” he said. “It was busy Monday and half of Tuesday, but today it’s dropped off. There is quite a bit in the pipeline, so I expect that it picks up again next week. It goes without saying we are in unprecedented times. Foodservice down to zero. That’s 70 percent of our business, and we’ve switched all of it over to retail. It’s that and all the uncertainty of layoffs and getting some resolution to the virus. And the thing is, we’re shipping the best quality we’ve seen all season.” Jason said Eagle Eye is shipping yellows and reds for the next several weeks. “The plan is to ship out of Idaho-E. Oregon and Washington through April 15 before we transition to the Imperial Valley,” he said. “That’s the plan anyway, and that depends on what happens with the pandemic.”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, told us on March 25, “We had moderate demand on Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week looks to be extremely slow. The nationwide shipments the last seven to 10 days have to be some kind of record. I’m pretty sure I have never seen 600-plus a day shipments like we have seen on a few days. Pipelines have to filled up with this kind of movement!” Steve said demand for medium yellows “has been extremely active,” and he said, “We haven’t been able to get enough mediums for retail. Buyers are having to use small jumbos to help get what they need on the smaller sizes.” About the market, he said, “As of Wednesday morning, prices have stabilized.” Steve said Baker & Murakami has “good availability on jumbos in both yellows and reds,” and he said there are “tight supplies on mediums on both yellows and reds.” Transportation, he said, has not been a problem.
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on March 25 that demand has “been very good,” and he said, “We’re done shipping today here at Haun Packing.” Herb added quality in the Treasure Valley is “really good” for the shippers who are still in.
Mexico/Texas Rio Grande Valley:
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on March 25 his operation was finishing with its yellow onions out of Tamaulipas, Mexico, that day. “We’ll be finished with our round onions next week,” he said. Don Ed said Rio Grande Valley yellow and red onions are shipping, and he said, “We’ll have more to run next week, so Texas and Mexico will overlap a little bit.” He said movement has been good, and he said the white market has been especially strong. “We’ll finish with Tamaulipas whites this weekend. And we will have whites from Guaymas in early April.” Don Ed continued, “As we’ve gotten more into Texas, the market today and probably tomorrow has a little lull, but retail is seeing very good action on smaller onions.” However, he said, with some areas cleaning up, supplies could lessen.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said on March 25 that “everybody’s been very busy, and we would go eight days a week but there’s only seven to be had.” He said the “super frenzy” has calmed somewhat, noting, “Business now is closer to normal-plus. We’re hopeful that foodservice comes back in the next few weeks.” In the Rio Grande Valley, he said, “Yields could be in a record year,” and he said, “Quality is drop-dead gorgeous.” David continued, “We’re about a quarter the way through, and labor has been OK. Transportation is a bit tighter. I believe some foodservice suppliers have redirected a portion of their product to retail.” He expects retail to continue to have good demand, and he said, “We’ll see what happens at Easter.”
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms reported from his Salem, OR, office on March 25, saying that Wada’s Imperial Valley deal with Troy Caston Farms will be starting up April 22. “We need a few more days of heat, but everything looks good,” John said. “If all goes according to plan, we’ll be up and rolling April 22.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, said on March 25 that approximately 80 percent of his operation’s 2020 crop has been planted. “We’re pretty well in,” he said, adding there will be no major changes in the onion program this season. If weather and conditions are favorable, Haun said, “We should easily be going the first week of August.”