Bad weather and lower acreage have conspired to strengthen markets for green onions, and supplies could remain tight heading into the high-demand holiday season.
“We’ve seen a slight increase in availability, a little bit better volumes the last couple of weeks, but it won’t be normal until about Nov. 1,” Mark McBride, salesman for Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce, said Oct. 1.
But Steve Timsak, salesman for Salinas-based Ippolito International LP, said that while he was confident he could cover his customers this fall, it may not be the same industrywide.
“I don’t see volume out there for Thanksgiving. There are some big shippers that could have trouble covering.”
On Sept. 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14.65-16.75 for cartons of medium bunched 48s from Mexico, up from $8.35-9.50 last year at the same time.
“I think prices will continue in double digits,” Timsak said. “I’m not sure at what level.”
Weather in Baja California has played a big role in the tight supplies in late summer and early fall, McBride said.
“There were heavy, devastating rains in some areas — the remnants of the Pacific hurricanes — that destroyed crops.”
On top of that, McBride said, extremely hot late-summer weather put a further dent in crops. As a result, volumes were down at least 25% for Coastline.
“I’ll be glad to see 2014 in the rearview mirror,” McBride said.
In addition to the bad weather, lower acreage has played a role in the low volumes and high prices, Timsak said.
“The market was so bad the prior year that a lot of guys didn’t plant as much. One of our large growers didn’t grow any this summer.”
Lower acreage led to a spike in prices, which in turn has led to Mexican growers scrambling to get product to market, Timsak said.
In their haste, many have shipped green onions before they’ve had a chance to size.
“I haven’t had a large onion in six weeks,” Timsak said Oct. 1.