Trent Faulkner with L&M Companies in Raleigh, NC, told us on Dec.31 that not a lot has changed with demand and the market. “We’ve had good demand for our onions coming out of Warden, WA,” Trent said. “It’s been steady across the board for all sizes and colors. Demand has stepped up a little with the Christmas holiday, and we’ve seen a boost for jumbo yellows, but nothing drastic.” On the market side, Trent said it seems to be gaining strength. “The market is definitely not going down, and we’ve seen it gain some strength due in part to the holiday demand,” he said. “It should be good going into the new year if we can keep it going.” Trent said that quality is good. “Our shipper out of Warden has done a great job with packing, and we should have a strong finish to the season with good quality.” He noted that freight hasn’t been a real issue. “We have seen a little bump in rates because drivers willing to go during Christmas were asking for more cash, but that’s not unusual. Other than that, freight has been about the same.” Trent added that there is not much to report on California, but they will start up with the California crop at the end of April.
John Vlahandreas with Wada Farms provided a report on Dec. 31 from his Salem, OR, office. “It’s pretty much the normal business this week,” he said. “There has been a small market increase because of the lack of availability. It’s going to be pretty tight on Thursday and Friday and into the first part of next week. Then, we should see things loosen up a little.” John added, “It’s important that we make wise marketing decisions going into the new year. I have seen big spikes in past years around the first part of the year, just to see it fall. That said, I do see the market continuing to increase at some level.” He said quality is very good. “Everything coming out of the sheds we work with is good. The shippers are doing an excellent job. Now, I am not sure about what kind of shrink there is, but with shrink comes a better market, so we’ll see what happens. Right now, Idaho has the least amount of product available, so pricing is higher out of that region. The Washington market is strengthening too.” John said freight hasn’t been a problem. “Freight is better than it has been for this time of year for quite some time,” he said. “In fact, I would say it’s actually been pleasant.”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, told us on New Year’s Eve day that demand has been good through the holidays, and he expects that to continue. “It’s been a beautiful holiday,” he said. “As a matter of fact, it’s starting to show a little now.” He added, “We saw very good demand for Christmas, and we think that should keep up for the next couple of weeks at least.” Running strongest have been jumbo yellows, although Herb said reds and whites have both been moving well, too. “White demand is good for what supplies we have left,” he said, adding the white onions will likely clean up in the next few weeks. Quality of the onions is holding well, and he said pricing has been “going in the right direction.” He said, “Prices have been increasing pretty nicely.” Herb also said transportation has been good, and he said of the industry overall, “We’re looking forward to an even better 2020.”
Dwayne Fisher with Champion Produce Sales in Parma, ID, told us on Dec. 31, “There wasn’t much down time for us these past two weeks. We planned on taking two days off both holiday weeks, but only took one.” He continued, “Demand has been fantastic, and historically for our sheds the first few weeks of January have great movement. Price is moving up and is much needed with the increased shrinks in many lots. The quality going into the bag is still top-notch, but there is no question more are getting thrown out to keep it that way!” Dwayne said he and his colleagues “are looking forward to some positive returns for the new year and think it is primed to be there. Customers have been as encouraged and positive about the market moving up as we are. They know we all do way better with a strong FOB.” As for demand, he said, “All colors and sizes have been moving well. We have been shorter on big stuff these past couple weeks, and medium whites are nonexistent for us.” And he concluded, “We wish everyone a Happy New Year and look forward to a positive outlook to start the year!”
Steve Baker with Baker & Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, weighed in on New Year’s Eve, saying, “Demand has been good so far early this week and has been equally strong on all sizes and colors.” The market, he said, is moving upward. “The market is on the rise on yellows this week. Whites I would say are up slightly. Red onion pricing is holding steady.” He added, “We have good availability on supplies this week. Business is very good. Being that it is a short week, I would suggest buyers get their orders in sooner than later this week. Quality has been very good.” Steve said transportation is “a little tight, which is normal for this time of year.” He noted truckers, like everyone else, want to stay home for the holidays, but Steve said, “We have been able to get loads covered up to this point.”
John Harris with Paradigm Fresh in Fort Morgan told us on Dec. 23 it had been a relatively quiet start to the week. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the holiday falling on a Wednesday,” he said two days before Christmas. He noted that “some people are off the early part of the week and a few the back half of the week.” Trucks, he said, were scarce, as was product. Weighing in again two days before New Year’s Day, John said, “This week is a lot like last week. Trucks will remain tight, and product will be a bit hard to come by. Starting next week, things should get back into a more regular groove and we’ll be back to business as usual.” Wishing everyone a Happy New Year, John advised, “Please allow a few extra days for all orders. Here is to a great 2020!”
Rick Greener with Greener Produce based in Ketchum, ID, reported on Dec. 31 that demand and the market are both steady. “Demand hasn’t been too bad,” he said. “There seems to be a push on jumbo whites.” Rick noted, “We’re shipping out of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Michigan, and product is really tight right now. Some sheds are running short days this week, and others aren’t running at all.” Rick added that freight is “OK,” adding, “You just have to pay for it.” On the year ahead in 2020, Rick said, “We are looking forward to the New Year and continuing to grow our business.”
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission told us on Dec. 31 the S. Texas crop “continues to move along.” He said in the Rio Grande Valley, “Temperatures are good for slow to moderate growth, and we have rain in the forecast.” In the Wintergarden area, David said the crop is planted, and his growers have normal acreage. “There are not a lot of us left in that deal,” he said. “Our acreage hasn’t changed significantly since we started in 2001, but the overall acreage in Wintergarden has declined.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco said coming off the good year 2019 had been, he was looking forward to 2020. “We had volume, quality and price, and you can’t beat that,” he said of the year just ending. He noted movement during the holidays had been a bit slower. “With Christmas and New Year’s both on Wednesday, it’s been pretty quiet, and the truck deal tightened up as well.” He added, “We’re expecting really good demand on Thursday, and the market seems healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it sneak up some.” About the crop in S. Texas, Don Ed said the region has had good weather, and the Rio Grande Valley crop is on track for a normal start in mid-March. “We’re right in the slot for S. Texas,” he said. “And the stands look very good.”
Don Ed Holmes with The Onion House in Weslaco, TX, said on Dec. 31 he expects to see a few sweets come out of Mexico later in January, with that crop looking good. “I think the Mexican acreage is back up, and we expect to have volume the last of the month.
David DeBerry with Southwest Onion Growers in Mission, TX, said his growers have started harvesting transplant whites in Mexico, and those onions are staying in Mexico now. “There’s not a lot of volume,” he said of the early harvest. “They will start the main part of the crop Jan. 20-25, and it looks like similar acreage to last year.” He said Mexican onions will come across “when the market here is better than the market there.”