Ralph Diaz says 2020 will go down as one of the strangest years he has seen, where shipping Peruvian onions is concerned.
To wit: Vidalia’s sweet onion season was short. A salmonella outbreak occurred in California. A pandemic throttled the world for most of the year. And the onions kept coming.
“This has been one of the strangest starts of the Peruvian season that I can ever recall, due to all the hurdles that the importers and exporters throughout the world had to overcome because of the coronavirus,” said Diaz, export and import sales manager at Sunbury, Pa.-based Karpinski Trucking & Produce.
“But with all of these obstacles we have had to deal with, from COVID-19 to the salmonella, we will still produce a full and successful season.”
Suppliers seem to have won one battle after another, but the war isn’t over, Diaz said.
Plenty still can happen, he noted.
“However, one of the main issues we are facing is not being able to have face to face negotiation with our growers due to the strict travel restrictions,” he said.
“We have to depend entirely, in most cases, with what is communicated to us through our representative, with whom we have built a strong relationship over many years.”
An early end of the Vidalia season motivated Peruvian growers to attempt to get an early crop to market, Diaz said.
And so another potential concern has cropped up, he said.
“I have spoken with other importers who believe this might also be a shortened season due to the earlier start and less hectares of onions planted,” he said.
Supplies could be tight through the deal, Diaz said.
“There is a large demand in the European market for the medium-sized onions, even though they historically prefer smaller onions,” he said.
“This might tighten the consumer pack market in the front end. Demand has been steady, and again, quality has been really sharp. This should continue throughout the rest of the season.”
Everyone in the deal remains optimistic, though, Diaz said.
“We are emphasizing strict food safety and are looking forward to a continued successful and safe season,” he said.