Apr 10, 2019
America’s onion supply coming up short this spring

Weather issues and dwindling global supplies will put the squeeze on the United States’ available onion stocks for the next few months.

Normally, American growers have enough onions in storage to last through the spring, while the spring and summer harvests get under way. That’s not the case today, as April supplies have dwindled 30 percent from the same time last year. April 1 stocks on hand sat at 6 million 50-pound units, down 61 percent in just one month. At current demand levels, onion storage will be all but nil by June.

“Decreased onion exports out of Europe, coupled with shrinking supplies from Mexico and Canada, fewer acres planted and increased demand in the United States are making for these tighter supplies,” said Greg Yielding, executive vice president and chief executive of the National Onion Association, based in Greeley, Colo. “Our nation’s growers will be working around the clock to continue to meet consumer demand. This could take another few months to balance out.”

The tight supplies are a direct result of continued strong demand for onions across America, coupled with increased pressures on onion supplies across the globe. A good 74 percent of the United States’ onion imports come from Mexico. Bad weather has hurt Mexican crops, especially, their coveted white onions.

Shortages in European markets also have put increased pressure on worldwide onion supplies, which have a ripple effect in the United States. Imports from Canada, which make up about 10 percent of the United States onion import market, also are impacted by this worldwide crunch.

America’s spring and summer harvests are starting to get under way, but they are down a bit from previous years. The overall spring crop in California is down 25 percent to 30 percent in acres. Texas onions, also with fewer acres planted, are coming out of the ground but the harvest has been slow due to wet weather. Georgia’s Vidalia crop also is smaller than previous years – about 20 percent — while harvest also is rather slow due to weather. Look for Vidalias to hit the market on April 22.

Onions are grown throughout the United States and are harvested at varying times through the year. The spring and summer harvests normally replenish spring shortages, while the fall crops keep Americans eating onions throughout the winter.

The National Onion Association is a non-profit trade organization made up of 500 onion growers, vendors and suppliers throughout the country. The organization is dedicated to advocating for the onion industry’s interest in Washington D.C., and increasing the consumption of onions.

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