British Onions has issued a press release in which Tim O’Malley of Nationwide Produce highlights the effect of this summer’s drought on the UK onion crop.
This included the latest production estimates from the British Onion Producers Association (BOPA) showing that 2022 production is anticipated to be down by 100,000 tonnes on the previous year, due to a lower planted area (down 840 ha) and lower average yields.
“That’s a lot,” comments Tim. “As a nation we usually grow around 450,000t and consume around 800,000t. We import onions from all over the world as it’s a truly global commodity but most of the shortfall is from the Netherlands and Spain. As you can see, it’s not just down to the drought. Part of the problem is an 8.5% drop in plantings. Almost all the major onion growing countries throughout Europe are down on plantings.”
He cites growers moving to less risky arable crops and moving away from onions due to the high energy costs associated with curing and storing the crop. The situation is not unique to the UK either. Spain is estimated to be down from 1.567 million tonnes to 1.198mt and the Netherlands is estimated to be down from 1.768mt to 1.494mt. Overall, the European crop this season is estimated to be down 13.4% from 7.293mt to 6.314mt. So, the headline figure is that total European production is down a million tonnes.
“The UK spot price for onions is currently almost double the price of this time last year,” he added. “But most UK grown onions are forward sold on contract to the UK retailers. Let’s just say the retailers are offering nothing like a 100% increase in the price. This example of just one crop highlights the challenges of not just hyper-inflation, but also the impact of the drought, facing our growers at the moment.”