ONION QUALITY has suffered so much after the wettest August in 100 years that the current over-supply could turn to a deficit.

The current large crop has been hit by severe crop wastage, whilst imports have dwindled as prices remain low.

“History tells us that an over-supply is never as big as it seems, and often shortages occur at the end of a potential over-supply season,” said Bill Rix, chairman of the British Onion Producers‘ Association.

A year-on-year increase in consumer demand for red onions could also help, he added.

The quality of spring sown set crops was split by the heavy autumn rain. Crops harvested early achieved good quality, but those taken after the rain were generally being down-graded.

Late growth also means many crops are oversize, said Mr Rix. “A significant acreage was ploughed-in to prevent poor quality samples reaching the market.”

Late harvesting of crops grown from seed has resulted in good size and yield, but variable quality due to the weather.

Careful selection for supplying end users will be needed to ensure quality supplies and a long season, warned Mr Rix.

Low prices now give the industry a marketing opportunity to regain volumes lost to overseas markets and a platform to build on for the future, he concluded.