Imports of fresh and chilled onions to the United States hit a record in 2021, at $537 million, according to data from the Commerce Department.
The figure represented an increase of 14% over 2020 and 17.2% when compared to 2019.
The United States is the world’s largest importer of bulb or tail onions.
Who were your main suppliers? Mexico (369 million dollars), Peru (88 million) and Canada (54 million).
There, production of bulb onions intended primarily for fresh use decreased 8% in 2021, with most of the reduction due to the yield impact of unusually hot and dry weather in the Pacific Northwest.
For example, after hitting an all-time high in 2020, bulb onion yields in Washington plunged 30%, by far the steepest year-over-year decline in bulb onion yields on record in the state. .
During the winter quarter from January to March 2022, the average nominal price index (unadjusted for inflation) received by producers of vegetables (including potatoes) increased 22%, led by onions and potatoes.
Shipping point prices rose for most vegetables in the index except tomatoes, sweet corn and celery.
Also during the first quarter of 2022, shipping point prices for fresh bulb onions were up 119% from a year earlier, to $43.15 per cwt, the highest nominal price during any quarter.
Extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest reduced yields and size of onions in storage in 2021 and growing demand from a recovering foodservice industry resulted in higher prices for 2022.
The start of Mexican imports, spring onions into Texas (delayed by cold weather), and the start of the Georgia onion season helped push prices down a bit as we entered the spring quarter.
Likewise, the volume of imports of fresh vegetables increased 8% in 2021, reflecting a higher volume of crops such as greenhouse tomatoes (9% more), onions (19% more), sweet corn (21% more ) and romaine lettuce (19% more).