Speaking at the Aug. 26 Bayer CropScience field day held near Roswell, ID, Jeff Boettge, Global Head of Marketing and Sales for the company’s Vegetable Seeds division, noted that U.S. winter onion markets stand to benefit from what’s happening on the global market.
Boettge, who is based in Fort Collins, CO, said that China’s declining farm labor could be a big factor.
Speculation is that a steady decrease in farm laboring has resulted in onions “left to burn in the fields.” As a result, much of China’s onions, 85 percent of which are hybrid, are staying in that country rather than being exported, and, Boettge said, other Asian markets such as Japan and Taiwan will be looking to other resources, including the United States, for onion supplies.
Boettge increased export markets for West Coast shippers could decrease some availability for domestic receivers.
On other global fronts, Boettge said some of Europe’s crops have been reported as below average, with smaller sizing than in past years.
As Russia and the Ukraine look to import a substantial volume of onions, Europe may not be able to accommodate the demand, he said.
Another global note is that more supermarkets are being built, necessitating more professional growing practices. Boettge said that an increasing need for additional long-term storage and more sophisticated harvesting practices could aid in what’s considered “the most highly volatile marketed commodity worldwide.”
He suggested finding ways to bring onions out of the commodity marketplace by adding value on a long-term basis.