Smaller onions a challenge to shippers

09/14/2012 11:28:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

This year, growers say Peru could produce fewer larger-size onions this year.

“We are facing a challenge this year relative to lower yields due to overall sizing being slightly smaller than normal,” said Marty Kamer, vice president of Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa.

“We project 5% or 10% more medium onions to be marketed in consumer bags, and we project 10% to 15% less colossal,” he said.

Struggle to find jumbos

Others agree.

“We’ve heard that a lot of people are having issues getting jumbos and colossals,” said Margret DeBruyn, chief executive officer of DeBruyn Produce Co., Zeeland, Mich.

DeBruyn said she has had more people come to them asking for jumbos because they haven’t been able to get them.

However, she said she’s uncertain whether this will be an issue for the entire Peruvian season because different crops were planted at different times and it’s still early in the deal.

“There may be more mediums this year, and smaller jumbos than in the past, but at this point, we’re really just getting into Peru, so it’s just one of those things that will just need to play out as the season goes along,” she said.

Derek Rodgers, director of sales for Sweet Onion Trading Co., Melbourne, Fla., also said it’s still a little early to make too many sizing predictions.

“We’re still trying to get a handle on sizing,” he said.

Rodgers does expect slight differences this year, however.

“There probably will be less colossal, but that should filter into more jumbo, so it shouldn’t have too big of an impact,” he said.

DeBruyn also doesn’t necessarily expect many supply disruptions because the major players in the deal should be able to adjust supply orders to meet customer needs.

“Sales really depend on the customer base, and there can be some shuffling,” she said.

Other challenges

Other potential challenges center on the logistics of moving product to the U.S.

“There’s always the matter of things coming across in a container on the water,” Rodgers said. “There’s always a margin of error for how many days it will take or if it will get hung up.”

He doesn’t expect any major transportation issues this year, though.

“It should be similar to last year, with transit times roughly the same,” he said.

Brian Kastick, president and general manager of Oso Sweet Onions, Charleston, W. Va., expects some additional challenges this year.


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