Lower Rio Grande Valley onion shipments are just getting underway with optimism for good volume and quality. Meanwhile, potato exports to Canada take a big jump.
South Texas onion shipments are just getting underway in very light volume, with decent loading opportunities expected in early April.
There are about 7,000 acres of onions in the ground, similar to past seasons. Shipments should continue into late May to early June out of the Rio Grande Valley. Much smaller volume will be available in July from the Winter Garden area just south of San Antonio. Light shipments from West Texas will be follow, continuing into early September. Currently, imported Mexican onions are crossing the border into South Texas and should finish sometime in April.
The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas has about 60 onion growers and about 30 shippers such as Southwest Onion Growers LLC, McAllen, The Onion House, Weslaco and J&D Produce of Edinburg. Total shipments of south Texas onions were about 3 million 50-pound equivalents for the 2015-16 season,
Potato Exports Show Big Growth to Canada, Mexico
U.S. fresh potato exports soared 17 percent in value last year led by double-digit growth in Canada and Mexico. U.S. fresh potato exports totaled $238.8 million, up 17 percent from a year ago, according to the USDA. Volume of fresh potatoes exported in 2017 totaled 544,624 metric tons, up 11 percent from 2016.
Leading the U.S. export market for fresh potatoes was Canada, where $101 million worth of potatoes were shipped, up 15 percent from 2016. The volume of U.S. fresh potatoes sold to Canada totaled 263,426 metric tons, up 9 percent.
Mexico purchased $41.8 million in 2017, up 14 percent from 2016. Volume of U.S. fresh potato exports to Mexico totaled 93,350 metric tons, up 2 percent from 2016.
Sales to other markets, with gains/loss compared with a year ago:
- Taiwan, $22.2 million (19 percent);
- Japan, $18.47 million (-5 percent);
- Philippines, $11.9 million (80 percent);
- South Korea, $8.9 million (160 percent); and
- Malaysia, $6.5 million (19 pecent).
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Technomic, a research company dedicated to the foodservice channel recently released their annual results report. Over half of the U.S. food dollar is now spent eating out at foodservice vs. retail, as more people go out to eat, rely on takeout or look for supermarket foodservice (convenient prepared food) options. Foodservice is now also the largest sales channel for potatoes in the U.S.
The $845 billion-dollar foodservice industry grew 1.6% in 2016, with the sectors of fast food/quick service, fast casual, fine dining and convenience stores seeing the most growth. All sectors are expected to grow in 2017 with overall sales projected to be up 1.7%. The fastest growing segment should remain fast casual, with an expected sales increase of 6.1% in 2017, followed by an emerging sector, supermarket foodservice with projected 6% growth. Noncommercial Foodservice (e.g. Healthcare, Schools) is also a bright spot, and is expected to continue to grow at a steady pace. Fine dining, which has been down in recent years, is expected to grow 3.1% in 2017.
Potato Exports Increasing
U.S. exports of frozen and fresh potatoes continued to grow in December while dehydrated exports were still down but by a lesser degree. The strong dollar continues to be an issue, but tight exportable supplies are also having an impact on future sales.
Frozen export volume increased 22% in December and is up 6% for the first six months of the marketing year. Exports for the month were up 27% to Japan, 30% to Taiwan and 59% to Central America. Exports to China and Mexico continued to slip, down 21% and 2% respectively for December.
Exports of dehydrated potatoes declined 20% in December and are down 21% for the marketing year to date. December exports to Japan were down 37%, to the Philippines down 70% and to Mexico down 14%. Canada is up 10% for the month, but is still down 6% for the year.
Exports of fresh potatoes, both chip-stock and table-stock, increased 16% in December and are up 26% for the marketing year. Exports for December to Canada were up 26%, with a 47% increase to Central America, 116% to Taiwan and 10% to the Philippines. With the early opening of the Japan shipping window in December the U.S. exported 5,560 MT of additional chipping potatoes there. Exports to Mexico continues to decline down 10% for December, with Korea down 49% and Malaysia down 17%.
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