Peruvian onion volumes expected to increase for holiday season

11/29/2011 11:37:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Volumes of Peruvian sweet onions should surge again in December, just in time to meet strong holiday demand, grower-shippers said.

After a lull between harvests, Peruvian sweet volumes should begin picking up again in December, said John Shuman, president and director of sales for Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc.

Late October loadings of 166 containers per week had fallen to 82 per week by mid-November with the end of the first Peruvian harvest, a sharper dropoff than usual, Shuman said.

With the second harvest ramping up, shipments should climb to 125 to 140 containers per week in December, he said.

Despite the increase in volume, Shuman does not anticipate a softening of markets. In fact, they could strengthen as the winter holidays near.

“Christmas demand is always high,” he said. “(Prices) could firm a little.”

On Nov. 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-15 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo yellow granex onions from Peru, down from $17 last year at the same time.

Shuman Produce expects plenty of promotable volumes of high-quality Peruvian sweets for the holidays, Shuman said. After abundant supplies of colossals early in the deal, the size profile should trend more heavily toward jumbos in December.

Shuman Produce expects to ship Peruvian sweets through February.   

Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc. expects to receive Peruvian sweets through January, said Marty Kamer, vice president.

All of the company’s Peruvians this year have received Pungency Plus certification from Collins, Ga.-based National Onion Labs Inc.

“Supplies will meet our forecast, and the quality is exceptional,” Kamer said.

Size profile is normal, with jumbos accounting for about 65% of all shipments, he said.

Keystone expects to begin harvesting Mexican sweets in late January or early February, Kamer said. Early reports from the region are favorable, he said.

“The crop looks great.”

Shuman Produce should begin receiving its first Chilean sweet onions in mid-January, Shuman said.

Looking ahead to the spring Vidalia season, Shuman said that despite a tough new Georgia law cracking down on illegal immigrants, onion acreage shouldn’t be severely affected by fears of not having enough labor.

“It’s on everybody’s mind, for sure, but except for maybe a few pockets, I think it will be a fairly normal crop.”

Georgia growers will rely more heavily on H2A labor to harvest the 2012 Vidalia crop, Shuman said.



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