According to the CEO of KeyPeru, Miguel Ognio Gomez, Peru exported 108,000 tons (4,000 containers of 27 tonnes each) of fresh onion during the last campaign (August 2016 - January 2017), i.e. 11.1% more than the 97,200 tons (3,600 containers) it exported in the previous season (2015/2016).
Ognio Gomez also stated that some farmers had produced too much product which led to low prices by the end of the campaign.
He said that the prices at the beginning of the 206/2017 campaign had been similar to the prices in the previous season, but that prices had fallen by almost 25% starting November. "We knew this was going to happen because of the excessive exports there were, mainly from Ica."
He said the main destination for Peruvian sweet onions had been the United States, where they shipped 85% of their exports. Europe, which has begun to acknowledge the taste of Peruvian onions, is another destination market for Peruvian sweet onions. However, the country still doesn't ship very important volumes to this destination.
High quality, low calibres
According to Miguel Ognio, the product's quality was quite stable. In this regard, he recommended that producers continue to take care of the onion's flavor.
"Exporters should be very careful with the product's sweet taste because it is a very sensitive market. Peru's advantage is the sweet taste of its onions and entering the market in the right commercial window, i.e. when the US production has ended," he said.
He also said that the onion sizes achieved in the campaign that had just ended were low (as there were no large onions) due to various factors, including climate and water issues.
"The climate is warmer than usual so the product grows faster. The growing season is shorter, so the onions don't grow to their full size. Another issue is that some areas of Ica have water problems (both in the water's volume and quality) which prevents optimal irrigation," he said.
KeyPerú participated with 23% of shipments
The general manager of KeyPeru said that the company had exported 24,840 tons (920 containers) of sweet onions in the 206/2017 season, which accounts for 23% of Peru's total sweet onion exports.
"There were many exporters in the 2016/2017 campaign, so exports were very fragmented. Our company exported sweet onions to the Latino markets, such as Colombia and Panama," he said.
He also said that KeyPeru only planted 250 and 300 hectares of onions because they didn't want to saturate the market. "Our goal is to increase the productivity per hectare, that's why we have invested in different harvesting, selection, and classification processes that allows us to be more efficient. I believe the secret to have good onion exports lies in being efficient and having a quality product," he added.
Peru has 2,500 to 3,000 hectares of sweet onions. The main production areas are Ica, norte chico de Lima, and Arequipa.