Ryan Fagerberg with Fagerberg Produce/Fagerberg Farms in Eaton said, “After a slow start, Thanksgiving movement is starting to pick up. I think that the onion industry would benefit from some cold weather, which seems to get people out grocery shopping. I feel good about our storage quality, and quantities will be sufficient to carry us into mid-March. Our storage crop has roughly a 65 percent medium / 35 percent jumbo mix, which may prove to be particularly helpful in this year’s market.”
Bob Sakata at Sakata Farms in Brighton said the market right now is “terrible,” and he added, “I’ll be glad when this season is over. But we’ll get through it.” Bob, never one to mince words, gave his take on the Nov. 8 election, saying, “I kept telling everyone from the beginning that no matter what the media was saying, Trump would create a big difference.” Bob, you remember, was featured at the 2012 Republican National Convention in a video that proclaimed, “Mr. President, we built this.”
In the San Luis Valley of Colorado, Jake Burris at Ponderosa Partnership/Aspen Produce said the operation’s first commercial crop was harvested in late October and could be packed for Thanksgiving. “The onions are drying in storage,” Jake said on Nov. 9. “We’re hoping to pack them next week.” The all-yellow Spanish onions sized to mostly jumbos with some mediums, he said, and the new product category will allow the operation to ship mixed loads. Jake also commented on the Presidential election, saying, “It really is a statement by America!”
Herb Haun with Haun Packing in Weiser, ID, reported that he sees demand getting better, and he has started filling orders for the Thanksgiving holiday. Herb said, “Demand for whites is very good, but really it’s pretty equal across the board.” He also said the market right now is stable and the quality of onions Haun is shipping is “absolutely excellent.”
Ken Stewart with Four Rivers Onion Packing in Weiser, ID, reports that demand has been fairly light this week, but he is optimistic that holiday demand will pick up soon. He said the market seems to have stabilized, but expressed that he is hopeful that an increase in demand will help lift prices. Ken said, “It used to be that we knew when the holiday orders would start coming in, but in the last couple of years, it’s been hard to predict the Thanksgiving push.” Ken commented that Four Rivers has seen an uptick in orders for consumer packs and it appears that their retail business is picking up. Ken reported that Four Rivers onion quality is good and they have had no issues. “We have been able to pack at a decent rate and we’re happy that the product is looking very good.” Four Rivers Onion Packing has all colors and sizes available.
Chris Woo with Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, reports that demand could be marginally impacted this week due to the focus on the election and Veteran’s holiday falling on Friday. He said that currently the market is stable and pricing is steady. “We have been busy filling orders for Thanksgiving ads,” Chris said. “With the holiday push around the corner, pricing should hold and hopefully increase. There is no reason to lower prices any further.” On transportation, Chris commented that at this time of year the availability of reefers starts to tighten, but favorable weather has allowed Murakami to load flatbeds later in the year than normal. Chris reports that Murakami has ample supply of all colors and sizes.
Trish Lovell at Agri-Pack in Pasco, WA, said the market conditions this week are “pretty bad, but we have to get through it.” She said, “There is too much product, and prices are too low. We’re just not in line with consumption, and if we don’t cut back, we’re going to face it again next year.” Trish said she was encouraged by the election, noting, “I think it’s wonderful. It was the people’s voice being heard. Now maybe we can get back to where we belong as a country.”
Overview by John Vlahandreas of Wada Farms:
John told us that overall demand this past week has been “moderate at best, but holidays just don’t have the push they used to.” He added that there has been light increase in movement going into Thanksgiving, but he said it hasn’t been “as much as we would like to see.”
Demand has been steady on all three colors, although John noted, “White onions seem to becoming a little less available.”
And he summed up the market by saying it is “stable to weak!” John said, “There are some large ads poking out there at ‘unreal’ pricing. At some point we are going to have to learn the word ‘no,’ but the onion volume available is too high now for that learning curve.”