W37: Onion Update

Published Sep 22, 2023
W37: Onion Update

In W37 in the onion landscape, onion and garlic imports have witnessed a significant increase in India during the 2022/23 season, leading to concerns about rising prices of these essential commodities. Agricultural economists have highlighted that this growing dependence on imports amplifies price instability in the country's domestic market. Onion imports, in particular, have surged by 79.05 thousand metric tons (mt) compared to the previous marketing year, while onion yields have declined by 184 thousand mt in the same period. In the 2022/23 season, India imported nearly 743.83 thousand mt of onions, a notable increase from previous years. Garlic imports have also risen, with a 43.55 thousand ton increase in 2023 compared to 2022, alongside a decline in garlic production by 122 thousand mt during 2022-23.

To curb food inflation, the government of Bangladesh has fixed prices for onions, eggs, and potatoes. These measures come as food inflation reached a 12-year high in August, with prices surging by 278 basis points to 12.54%. The government's price controls include setting the retail price of onions at USD 0.58 to 0.59 per kilogram (BDT 64 to 65/kg), eggs at USD 0.11 (BDT 12), and potatoes at USD 0.32 to 0.33/kg (BDT 35 to 36/kg).

Onion prices have sharply increased in the Daraja Mbili market in Kenya, with bulb onions priced at USD 0.68/kg (KES 100/kg), an increase from USD 0.34/kg (KES 50/kg) and USD 42.76/43 kg sack (KES 6,300/43 kg sack). This surge is due to a shortage of onion supply in the market, and traders anticipate that the trend will persist in the coming months. The onion shortage is partially due to expensive seeds, herbicides, and a lack of fertilizer, which has hindered production. Additionally, high taxation at the borders has disrupted onion supply, particularly for traders sourcing onions from Tanzania.

Unfavorable weather conditions in Spain, including heavy rains and storms, have impacted onion quality, leading to a 22.72% week-on-week (WoW) price decline in the second week of Sep-23. This adverse weather has particularly affected the late onion harvest in regions such as Ciudad Real, Toledo, and Cuenca, causing the loss of 300 to 400 hectares (ha) of unharvested onions. Despite increased planting, Spanish onion production for the 2023/24 season has fallen by approximately 20% due to heatwaves, drought, and insufficient irrigation, reducing onion sizes and yields. Consequently, prices have decreased to USD 0.51/kg. However, a positive price trend is forecasted shortly due to lower supplies and delayed harvests in other European countries.

In the markets of Huancayo, Peru, onion prices have decreased slightly, ranging from USD 1.20/kg (PEN 4.50/kg) to USD 1.60/kg (PEN 6/kg). Merchants attribute this pricing to factors such as cost structures and regional variations, noting that even if prices in Lima have reduced, they have remained mostly unchanged in Huancayo markets.

Lastly, the Ministry of Agriculture of Mexico reported a significant increase in onion production, reaching 1.53 million tons in 2022, representing a 5.3% rise compared to the production levels in 2021. Key onion-producing states include Chihuahua with 293.69 thousand tons, Guanajuato with 214.51 thousand tons, and Zacatecas with 190.49 thousand tons.

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