Volatile green onion market starts stabilizing

02/27/2008 12:00:00 AM
Brian Frederick

(Feb. 27, 2:15 p.m.) Despite an unstable market, grower-shippers of Mexican green onions expect a mostly smooth supply of good-quality product lasting through May before the summer transition to California.

Baloian Farms, Fresno, Calif., expects steady availability into spring.

“Our green onion deal is stable into March,” said David Anthony, salesman, who does not anticipate any gaps in the near future. “We’re expecting small to medium sizes, good quality, trending a 50-50 split between sizes.”

The weather at Baloian’s growing location in Mexicali has been cooler, but starting to warm, helping solidify a market that has been volatile in the past few weeks.

Pricing has been up and down over the past few months, but has leveled off, Anthony said. He declined to speculate on future prices because of market inconsistency.

Recently the market has been solid. Prices have been holding at around $7 for smaller sizes, with medium to large going $8-11, said Ben Wilson, salesman for Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Feb. 26 reported f.o.b.s of Mexican green onions arriving in California and Arizona at $8.20-10.45 for medium size 48s, with small size 48s between $8-8.50.

Dean Barbis, account and commodities manager for Bonipak Produce Co., Santa Maria, Calif., offered a similar appraisal.

“We’ve had a steady supply,” he said. “The market hasn’t been strong but the Easter pull should strengthen it. We’ll start pulling that around March 10.”

Barbis attributed excellent weather for the good crop.

“We’ve had optimal growing weather. It’s been bringing the crops a little early, but with no defects, good quality. Everything’s nice,” he said.

Bonipak anticipates its steady supply of green onions to continue with no gaps for the foreseeable future.

Coastline predicts a constant supply until May, followed by some gaps through the summer.

“The next couple of months is a good time for us,” Wilson said. “It’s warmer but not super hot. We’re getting some small sizes, but, speaking to other people in the industry, the crop size is mixed by grower. They’re really good quality.”

This is Coastline’s first year growing in Mexicali, having moved from Trinidad, Mexico. There has been a sharp increase in green onion cultivation in Mexicali because of skyrocketing rent prices in the Trinidad area, Wilson said.

Wilson has his concerns about growing in the region.

“It (Mexicali) hasn’t really worked for a lot of people in the past because of extreme heat and fungus,” he said. “There may be a little gap in June, July and August due to supply and lack of premium growing area.”

As a result of this, Wilson also said he expects prices to easily hit the double-digit marker for the summer.



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