This year’s onion season is now in its second half. Sowing is again underway in many places already. Meanwhile, produce is being shipped from cold storages and long-term storages. “The increased wage and electricity costs are already having an impact on the onion market,” says ubertus Kreifelts, joint managing director of the agricultural company of the same name, and onion trader in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Prices are currently at 16.00 EUR/100 kg ex station, which according to Kreifelts is too low in view of the cost increases. “A price increase to 19-20 EUR/100kg by the end of the month would be desirable. Thanks to high yields per hectare, we can’t complain too much at the moment. On the other hand, with normal yields per hectare, the current price level would have been more problematic.” Net yields of yellow onions this year were 65-70 tons/ha, he said, while normally 45-50 tons of marketable onions are harvested per hectare.
High-quality lots have been stocked for the most part, which is why there are currently exceedingly stable stocks of pleasing quality available, Kreifelts continues. “We expect to be able to offer regional yellow onions into June. On a trial basis, we have also stocked red bulbs. However, due to the poor quality, we have had to accept high drop-outs. We will therefore be able to deliver the last lots by mid-May at the latest.”
Changing packing structures
Until recently, Kreifelts also partially bought produce, packed it on site and delivered it to food retailers. This has now become almost impossible due to accelerated structural changes. “Packing structures have changed rapidly, having been centralized in the past few years, which is why we only supply raw goods to the larger packing companies and no longer pack goods ourselves. We, or rather the medium-sized companies, have thus lost a piece of value creation.”
Inevitable expansion of the portfolio
In view of the circumstances, the company is looking for new sources of revenue and is trying to expand its portfolio accordingly. Kreifelts: “We grew garlic for the first time last year, which is also an interesting niche. However, the labor costs are currently too high compared to the additional work on the product, because the garlic has to be cleaned. With onions, too, we are therefore trying to significantly mechanize the process, for example by means of optical sorting, although the current price situation is more of a deterrent.”
Effects of the grain crisis
In recent years, the onion acreage has expanded significantly in many growing regions in Germany, and in the west also. Due to the current war situation in Ukraine and the resulting export ban on grain, wheat might also come back into vogue for German farmers. “As yet, we do not see any effects of the current development in onion cultivation because sowing is already in full swing. However, it cannot be ruled out that we will see the first effects next year.”
Images: Kreifelts Agrar