Harsh weather drives up prices for green onions - The Packer

Harsh weather drives up prices for green onions

10/19/2011 10:08:00 AM
Andy Nelson

September storms in Mexico’s Mexicali growing region will likely keep green onion supplies tight and markets strong through Thanksgiving.

Rain and hail in mid-September caused significant damage to plants, which had a subsequent effect on U.S. markets, said Steve Church, chief executive officer of Salinas, Calif.-based Church Bros. LLC.

“The market skyrocketed up,” Church said Oct. 17. “I wouldn’t say it’s an increase in demand. Supplies are short.”

On Oct. 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $17.45-19 for cartons of bunched 48s from Mexico, up from $8.35-9.65 last year at the same time.

Film bags of iceless green onions were $17.47-19.45, compared to $9.85-10.50 last year.

Through Oct. 15, about 32 million pounds of green onions had shipped in the U.S. year-to-date, down from 35.3 million pounds last year at the same time.

Those markets will likely stay strong as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach and demand for green onions increases, Church said.

Jeff Post, green onion and asparagus commodity manager for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms, which sources from the Mexicali Valley, agreed.

While supplies were beginning to bounce back from the hailstorm by mid-October, Ocean Mist still expects weekly volumes to be about 8% to 12% lower than normal.

“The market’s been up to $27 on iced and to $18-19 on iceless the past few days,” Post said Oct. 18..

Most of the green onions imported this fall by Salinas-based Coastline Produce are coming from Mexicali, said Mark McBride, sales manager, who also reported significant damage from the September storms.

“It looked like somebody took a big lawn mower and knocked them down,” he said. “It really clobbered a lot of plants. I think we’ll see issues through Thanksgiving.”

Hail snapped green onion stems on a high percentage of crops over a several hundred acres, Post said.

Prices would likely stay in the upper teens through Thanksgiving, McBride said.

Quality is good on the green onions that survived the Mexicali storms, Church and McBride said.



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