Total UK onion production is estimated to be down by 55,000 tonnes on 2005, according to latest figures from British Onion Producers’ Association (BOPA).

The total crop stands at around 330,000 tonnes, compared with over 380,000 tonnes last year and a peak production in 2004 of 494,000 tonnes.

As well as significantly reduced yields, quality is also thought to be very mixed, thanks to hot, dry weather in July, followed by a wet August, explained BOPA chairman, Tim Wigram.

This mixed size and quality could cause some longer-term storage issues and means supply of quality large and pre-pack onions is likely to be limited, with a strong demand for high quality samples, he said.

Northern European supplies are also down significantly, with total production estimated at 4.5million tonnes, some one million tonnes less than 2005 and 1.3m tonnes below 2004.

“The shorter European market should eliminate the surplus of recent years and restore a measure of profitability,” Mr Wigram said.

“As in recent years, the quality of UK storage facilities will give the UK a significant lead in producing quality onions – but those coming out of store are only as good as the ones put in.”