Production in Europe is expected to fall this coming year, according to Matthew Spence, executive secretary for peak body Onions New Zealand, which may widen the opportunities in a market window that has been steadily shrinking for New Zealand.
“New Zealand’s window of opportunity hasn’t been increasing into the UK and Europe,” he told Fruitnet.com today. “Some years ago it was 10-12 weeks, now it’s four to six weeks in February-March.”
Europe and the UK are by far New Zealand’s largest onion export markets, he explained.
Concern over the quality of Japan’s domestic stored onion crop has also caught the attention of some of New Zealand’s exporters.
“The indications there are looking better than previous years,” explained Simon Vale of major grower Southern Fresh Produce. “I think they had a cool season with some more rain around harvest time than they would have liked. But with the recession as well, maybe a smaller crop will be enough for them.”
David Brasell at grower-exporter DM Palmer agrees the opportunities in Japan are looking better, and said his company had planted an increased area dedicated to the Japanese market, which demands larger-sized onions than most others.
Negotiations are also underway with the Indonesian government to open the market to New Zealand onions in time for the January harvest peak.
The country’s onion season is set to start in around 2 weeks, several weeks later than last year, and is expected to yield roughly the same volume harvest as the 2008/09 crop from a slightly increased acreage.
“The planted area is marginally up on last year,” said Mr Spence. “Planted area is 4,800ha for this coming season, while last year it was 4,675ha.”