Strong green onion market heads back toward normal

02/20/2013 10:08:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Green onion markets are still historically strong, though there were signs of softening as volumes increase in mid-February.

Typically green onion markets moderate by February, said Don Hobson, vice president of sales for Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Farms Inc. But with abnormally warm weather in Mexico’s desert growing regions followed by abnormally cold weather, that hasn’t been the case this year.

In fact, Hobson said he can’t remember a season like this.

“We’ve been shipping green onions a long time, and I’ve never seen (a strong market) last this long.”

Steve Timsak, salesman for Salinas, Calif.-based Ippolito International LP, agreed.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen them this high,” he said. “I’m very happy for the growers. They’ve taken a beating the last two years.”

By the first week of March, weekly volumes should be back to levels that will bring prices closer to normal levels for this time of year, Hobson said.

But Timsak said Feb. 19 that two more cold fronts forecast for February could keep volumes below seasonal averages. He did say, however, that prices the week of Feb. 18 were down $4-5 per box from the week before.

The market in mid-February was close to a two-tiered one, with small sizes, which were more ample, in the $18-per-box range and scarcer medium sizes in the $24 range, Hobson said.

Boskovich was sourcing from the San Luis region of Mexico in February, where it would likely stay until early to mid-June, when the deal switches back to Ojos Negros, Mexico, Hobson said.

After a long stretch of scant supplies, volumes should pick up in the second half of February, said Mark McBride, salesman for Salinas-based Coastline Produce.

But the crop isn’t in any rush.

“We thought we’d get some more last week, but then we had more cold weather,” McBride said Feb. 18. “One of these days we’ll start seeing more, but it’s been difficult to forecast. We’ve had a long light spot.”

When the higher weekly volumes do start hitting, long-high f.o.b.s should start to return to more normal seasonal levels, McBride said.

Quality was very good in February, though sizing was on the small side as growers were impatient to harvest to take advantage of strong markets, McBride said.

“There are a greater percentage of smalls and mediums,” he said.

Coastline is sourcing green onions from the Mexicali region of Mexico, where it expects to stay until late spring or early summer, McBride said.



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