Volumes were delayed and sizes large at the beginning of the Peruvian sweet onion deal, but quality was excellent and importers expected normal-sized crops, with more mediums on tap later in the deal.
Because of cool growing weather, Peru was running about two weeks behind at the beginning of September, with volumes expected to hit the week of Sept. 6, said Michael Hively, chief financial officer and general manager of Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC.
Bland could have used that lost supply in late August to help meet demand, Hively said, though the company’s New York deal helped to fill the pipeline until Peru ramped up.
“It would have helped to have had good supplies by mid-August, but we weren’t hurt too bad,” he said.
Quality in early-season onions was “absolutely gorgeous,” Hively said, with sizes running about 50% jumbos, 40% mediums and 10% colossals.
That’s down from a usual mix of about 40% jumbos, 40% mediums and 20% colossals, but Hively said the percentage of colossals would likely increase as the season progressed.
Bland expects to import about 1.5 million boxes of Peruvian sweets this year, up slightly from last year.
Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing received its first shipment of Peruvian sweets just before Labor Day, said Marty Kamer, partner and vice president.
Volume shipments will likely begin in October, Kamer said.
“We will have steady and promotable supplies through February,” he said.
Keystone’s growers planted 10% more hectares in Peru this year, Kamer said, but volumes could be higher or lower, depending on the weather.
“It’s a little too early to project the final volume for the season,” he said.
“A 10% increased over last year would be logical. However, the final volume for the season is in part up to Mother Nature and the yields from the various fields from Peru.”
Early shipments were heavy toward jumbos and colossals for Keystone, Kamer said.
“The quality has been very nice and will only improve as we get deeper into the season,” he said.
Register, Ga.-based Four Corners Farms began shipping Peruvian onions the week of Aug. 9, right on schedule, said Rawls Neville, the company’s operations manager.
Shipments increased weekly throughout the second half of August and began peaking in early September, Neville said.
Four Corners expects to ship about 195 loads of Peruvian sweets this year, about 40 more than last year, Neville said.
The company decided to increase its Peruvian deal because of certain expectations in the domestic market, he said — expectations that turned out to be correct.