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Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Onions


Overview

 
 

In terms of both farm value and per person domestic consumption, the onion industry represented the fifth most-valuable vegetable produced in the United States, with a 2012 fresh market farm value of $944 million. In 2012, the average American consumed 21.3 pounds of onions, up slightly from 1998 per capita consumption of 19.5 pounds per person. Fresh uses account for most consumption (93% in 2012). Historically, demand rapidly increased during the 1970s as the popularity of fast food hamburger chains featuring onions on burgers and onion rings as side orders increased. In the 1980s, the rising popularity of restaurant salad bars increased onion demand. By the end of the decade, demand continued to moderately increase as the growing popularity of pizza, pasta, salsa and other ethnic cuisines increased. The booming economy of the 1990s propelled demand for away-from-home foods, many of which feature onions. One-third of fresh market onions are consumed away from home, with full-service restaurants accounting for 15 percent of this target market..July 2014...Onions

Marketing

  • California Garlic and Onion Research Committee. (2012). On January 1, 2005, The California Garlic and Onion Research Committee as a state marketing order under the supervision of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The driving force behind the establishment of the marketing order was a concern by growers, processors and handlers to manage the rapidly spreading threat to Allium production areas by the fungal pathogen white rot (Sclerotium cepivorum). Through mandatory assessments, it is our goal to fund $100,000 annually for basic and applied research as well as for demonstration projects.
  • Federal (USDA) Onion Marketing Orders, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA. Link to information on the four federal marketing orders, including: Marketing Order 958: Idaho and Oregon Onions; Marketing Order 959: South Texas Onions; Marketing Order 955: Georgia Vidalia Onions; and Marketing Order 956: Walla Walla Onions. Contained within each of the pages listed is committee, rulemaking and other information related to the specific federal marketing order for each state/region.
  • Fruit and Vegetable Market News Portal, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA. Custom data queries concerning weekly prices at terminal, shipping, movement and retail points for fresh organic and non-organic fruits and vegetables, sourced by product variety and regional locations can be conducted using this excellent database.
  • Global Agricultural Trade System, Foreign Agricultural Service, USDA. Welcome to GATS, the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service's Global Agricultural Trade System. GATS includes international agricultural, fish, forest and textile products trade statistics dating from the inception of the Harmonized coding system in 1989 to present.
  • Market News Reports, USDA, FOB shipping information - The USDA's News Service reports on changes in produce markets. This link is specifically for potato and onion information.
  • National Onion Association - A membership organization that specializes in promotion, education and other services pertaining to the growing and marketing of onions. Founded in 1913, the National Onion Association (NOA) is the official organization representing growers, shippers, brokers, and commercial representatives of the U.S. onion industry. The NOA is comprised of over 500 members from the United States and abroad.
  • Onion Marketing Orders, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), USDA.
  • Onion World magazine - Voice of the onion industry.
  • Onions and Potato Market, Texas and National. (2012). Texas Department of Agriculture maintains a list of all current market reports issued by USDA-AMS on this site.
  • Onions, Dry: Recommendations for Maintaining Postharvest Quality. Suslow, T. (1996). Postharvest Technology Research Information Center, University of California, Davis, California. Updated in 2006.
  • Produce Marketing Association (PMA): Storage Onions - This site has a searchable database with information on storage onions and fresh onions, and has news items on issues related to supply, demand, marketing, nutrition and food safety. Founded in 1949, the PMA is a not-for-profit global trade association serving more than 2,400 members who market fresh fruits, vegetables and related products and services worldwide. Its members are involved in the production, distribution, retail and foodservice sectors of the industry.
  • Vegetables and Melons, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA. 2012. ERS provides economic analyses and data on changing conditions in the U.S. vegetables and melons sector. Topics include production, consumption, international trade, prices received, and more.
  • Vegetables Annual Summary, National Ag Statistics Service, USDA, 2012. This file contains data on fresh market vegetables, including seasonal acreage for harvest, planted acres, yield, production, intentions to plant processing vegetables; marketing year average price, value and utilization.
  • Walla Walla Sweet Onion Organization - The Walla Walla Sweet Onion United States Department of Agriculture Marketing Order (No. 956) was adopted in May of 1995. The order designates Walla Walla Sweet Onions as a unique variety, and establishes a federally protected growing area (the Walla Walla Valley of Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon). Sweet onions grown outside this production area cannot be marketed as Walla Walla Sweet Onions or face stiff federal penalties.  The order seeks to strengthen consumer demand through promotions, marketing, and research and development. These activities are financed by assessments levied on Walla Walla Sweet Onion shippers. The program is financed by assessments levied on handlers of fresh market shipments.
  • Why Can’t Vidalia Onions Be Grown in Iowa? Developing a Branded Agricultural Product, Clemens, R. (2002, September). Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC) Briefing Paper 02-MBP3, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Vidalia onions are an example of how responding to consumer demand with a succession of marketing, legislative and research events has protected a niche market from becoming oversupplied by producers. And, by protecting the name, quality and image of an agricultural product through state ownership of the trademark, higher values are realized throughout the marketing chain.

Processing/Manufacturing

  • Gills Onions - Example of an integrated producer, processor and marketer. This company markets fresh onions, bulk-processed onions, purees, food service and specialty products.

 Production

  • Allium Net (2012). Website developed and maintained by Dr. Howard Schwartz, Professor and Extension Specialist, Plant Pathology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado. Dr. Schwartz is a leading onion expert, and Allium Net has links to national allium research conferences, working groups, and ongoing grant-funded projects and resulting findings and outputs.
  • Chapter 21: Onions – 2012 Integrated Crop and Pest Management Guidelines for Commercial Vegetable Production. Cornell Cooperative Extension Publications, Cornell University, Cornell, New York. Site includes links for IPM Onion Scouting Form, New York Onion Crop Profile, New York IPM Elements for Onions, Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management, and Recommended Varieties.
  • Dehydrator Bulb Onion Production in California, Voss, R. E. and K.S. Mayberry. (1999). Vegetable Research and Information Center, Vegetable Production Series, Publication 7239, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Davis, California - Available in Spanish. Information on dehydrator bulb onion production areas and seasons, varieties, pest management, harvesting and marketing.
  • Fresh-market Bulb Onion Production in California. Voss, R. E. and K.S. Mayberry. (2011).  Vegetable Research and Information Center, Vegetable Production Series, Publication 7242, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California, Davis, California - Available in Spanish. Information on fresh-market bulb onion production areas and seasons, varieties, pest management, harvesting and marketing.
  • Fresh Onion Production Information, University of California Vegetable Research Information Center - Production and marketing fact sheets on dehydrator bulb and fresh onion varieties. Includes post-harvest procedures and production cost models.
  • Fruit & Vegetable Market News, AMS, USDA - Terminal and wholesale markets are listed at this site.
  • Green Onion Production in California
  • Onion and Garlic, Integrated Pest Management guidelines, University of California, Davis. The UC Statewide IPM Program provides practical information on pest management techniques and identification for a broad range of California pests. Management suggestions apply to California, but they may be useful in other areas also.
  • Onion Production, Agricultural Alternatives, Pennsylvania State University, 2000 - Marketing section of this site discusses the four basic marketing alternatives that are available to the onion grower: wholesale markets, cooperatives, local retailers and roadside stands. Publication also includes a sample onion budget including a summary of estimated costs and returns per acres and net returns for five different yields and prices.
  • Onions, VegNet, Colorado State University.
  • Sample Costs to Produce Onions, University of California Cooperative Extension, 2011. Wilson, R., W. Riggs. K.M. Klonsky, P. Livingston, and R.L. DeMoura. (2011).  The sample costs to produce onions for dehydration in the Tulelake Basin of the Intermountain Region are presented in this study. The study is intended as a guide only, and can be used in making production decisions, determining potential returns, preparing budgets and evaluating production loans. The practices described are based on production procedures considered typical for this crop and area but will not apply to every situation.

Businesses/Case Studies

  • Basin Gold Cooperative - A group of companies in Eastern Washington and Oregon that specializes in the sale and marketing of fresh potatoes and onions. This marketing cooperative was formed to provide their customers with a quality source of produce on a year-round basis as well as improve customer service. Of the member companies, nearly all are involved in the growing, packing and shipping of fresh market onions and potatoes on a national scale. The members alternate and stagger their packing and shipping times throughout the winter and following spring to fill customer orders, as well as maintain enough product in storage to maintain shipments until the next summer harvest.
  • Partners Produce, Inc. The largest producer of whole peeled onions in the Idaho-Eastern Oregon growing area, this two-generation family business was established in 1998. From farming, to fresh packing operations, to processing, Partner's Produce Inc. is a full service onion grower, packer, and processing company.

Other Links

Co-Packing

Direct Food Markets

Farmers' Markets



Links checked July 2014.

 

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