In addition to increased demand, better spring weather brought a more normal start to the season, which should allow growers to move more onions.
“If we get an earlier start this year compared to last year we should be able to move more onions this year, and sooner,” Komoto said in an e-mail.
Chris Woo, onion sales manager for Idaho and Oregon for Murakami/Potandon Produce Co., Ontario, Ore., says he expects a strong market as demand continues to grow for retail and foodservice.
“Onion consumption has increased more than 60% from 30 years ago, especially for foodservice,” he said. “It used to be just onion rings and French onion soup, but that’s changing.”
Despite slightly lower quantities, a few growers have expanded operations this year to include different varieties.
Ontario Produce Co. plans to offer sweet onions for the first time this year.
“We have had small trial amounts for several years, but this is the first time we feel we have the right product that will provide the customer with an excellent product in good volume from September through December,” Komoto said.
Riley says Snake River Produce is also trying to work on a sweet onion program.
“We’re growing a couple of varieties of sweet onions, and we’re in our second or third year,” he said.
“There’s a lot of competition in that arena, so we’re trying to build some identity, and we hope to be successful at that,” he said.
Woo also mentioned a future sweet onion program.
“We’re working on a sweet onion program that will be able to store longer and stay milder,” he said. “It’s still a work in progress.”