(Nov. 8) Lower volumes of sweet onions from Peru should keep demand strong until at least the end of the year, grower-shippers predict.

Thrip infestation and reduced sizing have put a 22% dent in Stockton, Calif.-based Onions Etc.’s Peruvian onion deal, said Derrell Kelso Jr., owner and president.

The reduced volumes will mean an early end to the deal, Kelso said. Onions Etc.’s program, which got under way in late September, should wind up by the end of December, he said. Last year, the company shipped Peruvian onions into February.

Fewer onions has meant higher demand this fall, Kelso said. He expected prices to remain strong throughout the deal.

“Prices have stayed steadily high throughout the deal,” he said. “I don’t see markets fluctuating a lot from where they are now. They may go up a little, but we won’t have any crazy numbers. There’s not a big shortage of sweets by any means.”

Bland Farms LLC, Glennville, Ga., expected to import 1,100 containers of Peruvian onions this year, said Michael Hively, general manager and chief financial officer. But because of El Nino, smaller onions and more product going to Peruvian markets, the company should get only about 800-850 containers, he said. He reported normal thrip pressure.

Hively anticipated pricing would remain strong for the rest of the year.

“Markets have been very strong,” he said. “We’ve seen it between $20 and $24 the entire season.”

On Nov. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $21-22 for 40-pound cartons of jumbo yellow granex onions from Peru, up from $19-20 last year at the same time.