Each onion year is unique. This year is too, says Maarten van Damme of Dacomex in the Netherlands. “Export figures are just fine. But there are only a few destinations that are taking lots of onions. These are mainly the big buyers in West African countries. These include Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Mali. One thing is sure – we’ll be losing a huge sales market by the beginning of next year.”
“So, it’s perhaps a good thing that there are container shortages in some places. Otherwise, all kinds of exporters would be sending onions to Africa non-stop. That would totally flood that market. On a positive note, we’re already getting queries from Eastern European countries. Surely, that’s a sign of things to come.”
“The yields there weren’t the same everywhere either. They should, therefore, be on the market next spring. But they’ll never take the same volumes as those sent to Africa in recent months. There’s good demand from the UK. But things are quiet further afield,” says Maarten.
“Prices – currently €0.145 to €0.155/bale – don’t hamper exports. Rather, container availability is proving to be an inhibiting factor. Although that varies by destination. Quality-wise, it seems to be a good year. There were plenty of problems in the onion sets. But it’s a good year, qualitatively, for sowing onions. There’s not much of a price difference between good and bad quality onions. The red onion market is quiet too. There’s mostly demand for large sizes, but there aren’t that many of those.”
According to Maarten, potato exports are also dead quiet. “All destinations are taking far fewer potatoes. It was only big bag potatoes to Israel that sold well in the last few weeks. But that will soon end as well. African clients find the potatoes expensive. Add packaging and transport prices to that. Then there’s much less enthusiasm. People then tend to opt for cheaper products,” he concludes.