Philippines’ supply of white onions gone since July, growers say

The Department of Agriculture is checking the inventory of white onions, as there might be instances of hoarding occuring, not unlike sugar.

Jordeene B. Lagare

Jordeene B. Lagare

Philippine Daily Inquirer

Canva-Fresh-Onion-Close-up-1024x1536-1.webp STOCK IMAGE

August 19, 2022

MANILA – Local onion producers said their stock of white onions has been depleted as early as July, but assured the public of enough supply of red onions until before the holiday season.

In an interview with radio station dzBB, Katipunan ng Samahang Magsisibuyas sa Nueva Ecija general manager Arnel Llamas said they ran out of white onions in their storage facilities “last month.”

“Yun pong ating supply ng pula base doon sa huling meeting natin sa plant industry ay aabot iyan ng middle ng December 2022 (In the case of red onions, based on our last meeting with the [Bureau of] Plant Industry, the supply will last until the middle of December 2022),” he said.

The Inquirer reached out to the Department of Agriculture (DA) but did not get a comment on the issue.

Price monitoring
Llamas said onion farmers in Nueva Ecija harvested a total of 350,000 bags, of which 50,000 bags were white onions. The harvest season varies per province but he said it usually starts in the second week of January until February. Generally, the storage life of onions lasts for one to three months.

As of Thursday, local red onion in Metro Manila markets retails for P120 to P170 a kilo, based on the DA’s price monitoring, higher than P90 to P120 per kg a year ago.

White onions, on the other hand, were “not available” based on the same DA price monitoring. Yet, last August 11, imported white onions were sold for as high as P400 a kg from only P70 to P80 last year.

Just recently, the DA convened concerned stakeholders to discuss the onion supply situation in the country.

“Chine-check pa ng DA ang inventory ng white onions at baka similar sa sugar, ay baka may nag ho-hoard (The DA is checking the inventory of white onions and similar to sugar, there might be instances of hoarding),” Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura executive director Jayson Cainglet told the Inquirer via Messenger.

“We are asking them to check the warehouses,” he added.

Restos as importers
The idea of restaurant owners themselves importing the commodities was suggested and Cainglet said the restaurants were considering the proposal.

Llamas said they were not opposing the importation of onions to plug the shortfall as long as it would be regulated.

Onion production in the first three months of 2022 reached 147,147.62 metric tons (MT), up by 4.2 percent from 141,173.59 MT in the same period a year ago, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.

Central Luzon was the leading producer of bermuda onion while Ilocos region posted the highest production of native onions for the quarter.

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