Sweet onions from Peru reach peak quality, size - The Packer

Sweet onions from Peru reach peak quality, size

09/28/2011 09:38:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Courtesy Keystone Fruit MarketingThe quality of Peruvian sweet onions shipping in the U.S. for the remainder of 2011 should be outstanding, shippers said.

In late September, Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC was wrapping up its Utah and Idaho sweet onion deals, after which the company will focus on its Peruvian program, said Richard Pazderski, sales and marketing manager.

Bland Farms began shipping Peruvian sweets in late July, about three weeks earlier than normal, Pazderski said. Because of the earlier start, the company expects to ship more Peruvians this year than last.

Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce began shipping Peruvian sweets Aug. 20, and expects to ship through February, said John Shuman, president.

Shuman Produce expects to ship about 30% more Peruvians this season than last.

“Demand has been very good, and it seems to be a nice crop so far,” Shuman said.

Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc. will ship primarily from Peru and the Pacific Northwest through fall and into winter, said Marty Kamer, vice president.

“Both areas will have steady supplies from now through December,” he said. “Quality is exceptional from both areas, and my guess is it will be excellent through the end of the year.”

Supplies are ample enough, Keystone is encouraging customers to “promote with confidence” through the holidays, Kamer said.

Demand was above average in late September, Pazderski said, with prices in the $16 to $18-per-box range. Prices could come down slightly in coming weeks, but for the main part, they should remain fairly stable heading into the holidays, Pazderski said.

Shuman also expected prices to remain fairly constant in coming weeks.

Markets in late September were steady, Kamer said.

On Sept. 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $16-17 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo granex onions from Peru, down from $22-24 last year at the same time.

Through late September, the quality of the Peruvian supplies had been outstanding, Pazderski said.

“Yields are great, sizing’s great and you can’t ask for better quality.”

About 55% of the Peruvians shipped by Bland in late September were jumbos, 25% were mediums and 20% were colossals, Pazderski said.

That’s a perfect mix, he said, considering how much demand for mediums has increased in recent years. Not too long ago, importers didn’t have much need for medium-sized onions from Peru.

“Demand for consumer bags is through the roof,” he said. “You need a good amount of mediums.”

The size profile out of Peru is slightly smaller this year for Keystone, with colossals down about 10%, Kamer said. Sizing in the Northwest was normal as of late September, with jumbos and colossals accounting for about 80% of all shipments.

The Onion House LLC, Weslaco, Texas, expects to begin shipping a new variety of long-day onion from Colorado by about Oct. 20, said Don Ed Holmes, owner.

While not as sweet as Peruvian and other short-day onions, it’s the first long-day variety that Holmes believes is truly sweet.

“We think we’ve found something that’s a lot better than what we’ve had in the past,” he said.

The Onion House wrapped up its New Mexico sweet onion deal in mid-September.



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