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Onion prices may drop on bumper harvest

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
Onion prices may drop on bumper harvest
The country’s onion production in the second quarter could double compared to last year to around 174,288.98 metric tons (MT), according to a unit of the Department of Agriculture.

MANILA, Philippines — Onion prices are expected to remain stable or to even decline as the government forecasts another record harvest of bulbs in the second quarter, bringing nationwide supply to comfortable level.

The country’s onion production in the second quarter could double compared to last year to around 174,288.98 metric tons (MT), according to a unit of the Department of Agriculture.

The projected output is 89,384.99 MT higher than the 84,903.99 MT recorded in April to June of last year.

The DA high value crops program estimated that bulk of the projected production would be harvested in April, reaching about 141,000 MT. This will be followed by a 17,803 MT and 15,364 MT production levels in May and June, respectively.

Based on the estimates, about 86 percent or nearly 150,000 MT would be red onions while 10,027.63 MT and 209 MT would be yellow onions and shallots, respectively.

If the projections materialize, then it would raise total onion output in the first half alone to over 370,000 MT, the highest in history. The country produced 201,000 MT of onions in the first quarter.

The total volume would be more than enough to meet the country’s estimated onion requirement between 270,000 MT and 300,000 MT, which already takes into account the wastage.

The last demand survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that each Filipino consumes 2.341 kilograms of onions annually.

Agriculture Undersecretary Cheryl Marie Natividad-Caballero attributed the increase to expansion in onion areas in the Central Luzon region. In Nueva Ecija alone, planted areas with onion rose to around 13,000 hectares from at least 9,000 hectares, she said.

“(The higher production will) not affect (farmgate prices) because the second quarter is not yet the peak season for onion and farmgate will still be good for farmers,” Caballero told The STAR.

“As for consumers, the increase in yield will assure them that prices will be stable,” she added.

In February, the DA projected that the country would produce more than 300,000 MT of onions this year.

The Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) noted that the better onion production this year would be double-edged: it may depress farmgate prices but would keep retail prices stable.

“Retail prices will not go as high as what happened last year since this time we have surplus production,” PCAFI president Danilo Fausto told The STAR.

Fausto noted that there has been a 40 percent expansion in planted areas of onions this year after farmers were encouraged by high prices last year.

Retail onion prices in Metro Manila markets have been relatively stable throughout the year with a price range of P60 to P140 for red onions and P50 to P130 for yellow onions.

As of May 10, the country has 180,680.47 MT of red onions, 33,282.01 MT of yellow onions and 72.5 MT of shallots in cold storages nationwide.

Filipinos grappled with unprecedented onion prices that hit as high as P700 per kilogram between the latter part of 2022 and early months of last year.

The rise in onion prices was caused by insufficient supply after the government opted to disallow the entry of imports to protect local farmers.

The Philippines harvests bulk of its onion output during the first semester with minimal production during the second half of the year due to climatic conditions.

The total local onion production in the first half usually serves as the basis for the government in determining the amount of imports that would be allowed in a given year.

The government regulates the imports of onions in the country through the limited issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSICs).

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