Peruvian onion quality and volumes have rebounded after a challenging first part of the season.

Peruvian onion deal bounces backAfter a challenging deal in the Ica region of Peru, Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., reported good quality and sizing and strong demand out of other Peruvian regions at the end of December, said John Shuman, the company’s president.

“We made it through the Ica deal, and the onions now are looking very, very nice,” Shuman said Dec. 30. “The retail business has been very brisk.”

Peruvian quality and size profile improved as 2013 wound down, agreed Barry Rogers, president of Melbourne, Fla.-based Sweet Onion Trading Co.

“Peru turned out, volume-wise, to be better than expected,” Rogers said. “The quality has come and gone a bit in the move from north to south, but it’s marketable. We’re doing the best we can with it.”

Demand was sluggish early in the Peruvian deal, leading to a volume decline in the middle of the deal for Sweet Onion Trading, Rogers said.

“We came back strong at the end — maybe a little too strong.”

Shuman Produce expects to have Peruvian onions through early to mid-February. The deal will likely wind up being smaller than last season because of lower yields and some quality issues out of Ica, Shuman said.

Shuman Produce will begin supplementing its Peruvian onion deal with Chilean produce in January, Shuman said. The first Chilean container shipments should begin arriving in the middle of the month.

Arrivals should continue through February, with product available in the U.S. into March, Shuman said.

Sweet Onion Trading expected to begin bringing in light volumes of Chilean onions by mid-January, Rogers said. Early reports indicated a good mix of sizes out of Chile this season, he said.

Mexican onions, meanwhile, should begin shipping for Shuman Produce in late January or early February, later than usual, Shuman said.

But with ample supplies from Peru and Chile in the marketplace, markets won’t likely spike, he said.

“I think it will remain steady.”

As of Dec. 30, it was hard to tell when Mexico would begin shipping in volume, Rogers said.

“It’s been pretty cold the past three weeks.”

Rogers agrees with Shuman that the late Mexican start won’t likely lead to a steep price hike. Instead, it could cause early and mid-season Mexican volumes to bunch up, possibly leading to a glut.