“We thought Vidalia would be shorter, and that we’d need more (Peruvian product) on the front end, and that’s pretty much what came to pass,” he said.
Peru more or less had the U.S. sweet deal to itself heading into the fall, Neville said.
“There are some domestic deals going now, but they’re very limited,” he said. “There’s not really any direct competition.”
Excellent quality on the early Peruvian product helped to keep movement brisk for Four Corners’ higher volumes, Neville said.
“Overall, it’s the best onion from Peru in three years,” he said. “The appearance is beautiful, and they’re very mild.”
The size profile of the company’s early-season product also was outstanding, Neville said.
“We’re shipping about 90% jumbos,” he said. “It’s a bigger profile than last year. Right now, we’re perfect.”
Four Corners expects to ship Peruvian onions through December, Neville said.
Volumes will likely to be down slightly compared to last year for Melbourne, Fla.-based Sweet Onion Trading Co., and more in line with the 2008 season, said Barry Rogers, the company’s president.
Sweet Onion Trading expects to import about 185,000 cartons this season, he said. The company’s deal should wind down in late December or early January.
Medium-sized onions from Peru could be more scarce, thanks to increasing domestic demand in the country, Rogers said.
“A lot of onions are being sold for cash locally,” he said. “It seems to be a trend that increases every year.”
Mount Kisco, N.Y.-based Direct Source Marketing expects to bring in about 120,000 boxes of Peruvian sweets this season, up from 70,000 boxes last year and 45,000 boxes in 2008, said Ira Greenstein, the company’s owner.
The company’s first load arrived the week of Aug. 23, Greenstein said.
“We’re very pleased with the quality,” he said.
Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc. imported its first load of Peruvian sweets in mid-August, but volumes weren’t expected until mid- to late September, said Brandon Parker, the company’s sales manager.
Upon onion arrivals, inspections at the port slowed the distribution of early-season product, Parker said. Volumes increased on a weekly basis in late August and early September.
Shuman Produce expects to ship up to 475,000 cartons of Peruvian onions this year, up from last season, Parker said.
The company’s first-crop shipments from Peru will wind down around the first of the year, he said. Shipments from a second crop should last through February.