Fluidity in the onion market

A lower production than previous years is enabling the new onion market to maintain a stable and correct demand

“We are experiencing a completely different situation from the previous year, because the coincidence of several factors is enabling the onion market to enjoy a fairly tranquil campaign,” explains Alfonso Tarazona, president of the Association of Onion Harvesters-Exporters (ACEC).

The demand for new onions is proving to be correct with regard to existing productions and this is due to a series of different factors: first, the good quality and calibres attained thanks to the spring rains, which completely changed the situation of drought into a favourable circumstance, and second, due to a decrease in production, as a result of some producers becoming fed up and abandoning the crop after several sluggish years. All of this despite the pressure exerted by surplus stocks of Dutch onions.

“We have reached an appropriate situation to attain this stability, but I believe that the sector, the entire chain, must rethink the way it faces the future because, although this year is proving to be a correct one, if the supply had been just average, we might have been dealing with a disastrous campaign due to stable demand. In my point of view, we have to review the situation and only plant what is needed, because onions are very price-sensitive produce. Consumers might pay 7 euros for a kilo of cherries, but 2 euros for a kilo of onions seems expensive and affects demand.”

Different operators that were consulted by this magazine have explained that, although prices are nothing to rave about, they enable us to cover our costs in such a delicate economic situation, not only for our sector but for all fruit and vegetable sectors. “The important thing will be to see whether this situation continues and be very alert to the evolution of price increases”.

Problematic logistics

While we have not yet overcome the global problem of container traffic, we are beginning to notice the first effects of the lack of lorries for road transport in Europe. “After the strike in March, every day it is becoming more difficult to find hauliers for sales within Europe. Many freelance workers have retired and it is clear that, with a situation of incessant fuel price increases, the situation is becoming more and more complicated.”

In the case of produce with so much volume as onions and in a country like Spain, which is a net exporter, but also an importer out of season, transport is a consideration to bear in mind. We had a hard time in the first three months of the year and, above all, in the month of March, because the ships that should have stopped in the port of Valencia, due to the situation of collapse, were redirected to other destinations in the Mediterranean until matters improved, before finally ending up here. Several operators indicate that they experienced some losses, but these were manageable.

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