An early start to the Mexican sweet onion deal meant a glut of product at the beginning of February, but as Peruvian supplies wind down, volume should return to normal, importers said.

Mexican onion deal starts early, clogs market

Courtesy Shuman Produce

Peruvian onion shipments should wind down in mid-February for Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce Inc., said John Shuman, the company's president.

“It’s a fairly early Mexican crop, and it’s caused a few problems,” said Richard Pazderski, sales and marketing manager for Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms LLC. “There are still quite a few Peruvians.”

That should change, however, as Peru wraps up in mid-February, Pazderski said. John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga., also expected a mid-February end, right on time.

Greencastle, Pa.-based Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc. added a growing region in Peru this year, and expects to have product available into March, about a month longer than usual, said Kurt Schweitzer, the company’s president.

Keystone expects to begin shipping Mexican mayan sweets in mid-February, Schweitzer said.

“It’s a perfect overlap for us,” he said. “We’ve had a very good year in Peru, and it looks like Mexico has a nearly perfect looking crop.”

Shuman Produce expects to ship Mexican sweets through about mid-March, at which point its Texas 1015 and Texas granex deals should take over. Shuman reported a significant increase in its Texas granex program.

Peruvian onions were averaging about $16 per box at the end of January, Shuman said, and he expected them to finish in the mid-teens in mid-February.

It was impossible to predict where markets would go, Schweitzer said because it’s impossible to predict how many onions Mexico will ship.

“They’re saying there will be a gap for the next two or three weeks, but who knows,” he said Feb. 1.

On Jan. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $14-16 for 40-pound cartons of colossal yellow granex onions from Peru, comparable to last year at the same time.

Most Peruvian onions shipping in February would likely be jumbos, with very few colossals still in the pipeline, Shuman said.

Mexican sweet onions would likely peak on colossals and jumbos in February, Shuman said.

“It seems to be big and beautiful,” Shuman said of the Mexican crop. “We expect good shipments out of Mexico.”

Quality on Peruvian and Mexican product in January was excellent, Pazderski said. Bland’s mix of Mexican sweets was about 60% jumbos, 20% colossals and 20% mediums, he said.

Bland Farms’ Texas deal was expected to get under way in early March, about a week earlier than normal, Pazderski said.

This season Bland Farms also is shipping long-day sweet onions out of Hermiston, Ore., said Delbert Bland, the company’s president. The company’s joint venture with Hermiston-based River Point Farms is new this season, Bland said.

The deal began in October and should run through about mid-March, Bland said.

Early growing weather in Vidalia, meanwhile, has been excellent as of the end of January, Bland said.