Soaring onion prices â cartons are more than double what they were last spring â will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future, grower-shippers said.
âPrices are still up there â a hangover from Mexico being so short and Texas being so late,â said John Shuman, president of Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga.
âThereâs really not enough volume yet to fill up the pipeline, and demand is still through the roof,â said Barry Rogers, president of Sweet Onion Trading Co., Palm Bay, Fla.
On April 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $30-32 on 40-pound cartons of jumbo sweet onions from Vidalia, Georgia, up from $16-17 last year at the same time.
Fifty-pound sacks of colossal yellow onions from Texas were $30-34, up from $6 last year at the same time.
As supplies from Georgia and Texas increased, prices started to come down in the week leading up to April 28, Shuman said.
Whether they will continue to come down or will stay where they are depends on what happens with the Vidalias, set to harvest in mid- to late May, Shuman said.
While Shuman Produce reported good quality, sizing and yields on onions harvested in late April, the attributes of fields that havenât been harvested are unknown, he said.
âThe sizing in the fields is not where it should be,â he said of the crop slated for mid- to late May harvest. âThere was so much rain in November and December, an unusually high percentage were planted in January and February.â
The Vidalia crop will likely only be in the 3-million-box range â 1.5 million jumbos, 1.5 million mediums, Rogers said. Thatâs about half of normal.
âVidaliaâs a mixed bag,â he said. âSome of itâs real good, some of itâs real bad.â
The crop in Texasâs Winter Garden area looked good the last week of April, harvest there was still weeks away, Rogers said.
He said prices should come down a bit more in coming weeks and settle somewhere in the $20s, but he doesnât expect f.o.b.s to return to normal levels until mid- to late summer.
Shipments from New Mexico and Washington in June would likely provide a little relief, but not enough to meet demand nationwide, Rogers said. Markets would not likely get back to normal until the California deal begins later in the summer.