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South African onions are increasingly important to the UK and Europe

“South Africa is an increasingly important supplier of quality onions to the UK and EU. Not only this year where there is a shortage of the product, but already in 2021 and 2022 we have seen strong interest in our onions. They have improved a lot over the years and they are 100% in line % with supermarkets’ requirements,” says Peter Du Toit, director of Dutoit Vegetables, based in Koue Bokkeveld, the only area in South Africa to export large quantities of onions.

“We are able to supply onions from January to mid-April. The current demand for the yellow variety is very strong, due to the global shortage. Five years ago we took a strategic decision to export part of our onion crop, but due to the current shortage, we will export about 15% more than it was.” originally planned.

Buyers in the UK and EU are looking for Class 1 yellow onions in sizes between 40mm and 90mm, but mostly 70mm and above.

The company, which also exports premium fruits, cherries, peaches, nectarines and sweet potatoes, will source a large portion of the onion crop.

Many onion producers from the Korkom commodity group, which represents Koue Bokkeveld growers, do not export.

The biggest demand for onions still comes from the European Union and the United Kingdom, but this season, buyers in the Middle and Far East are also interested in the long-lived yellow onions that farmers can grow in Koue Bokkeveld.

“With prices also rising domestically, African exports will be lower than in previous years,” adds Peter Du Toit.

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There was a normal crop of onions, both in terms of yield and quality, but the size was generally smaller than usual, with larger sizes less so. Some producers in Serres (Korkum region) were badly affected by the hail and rains.

Pieter du Toit notes that container handling is being affected by logistical issues at Cape Town’s port and that cold storage space is filling up quickly.

for more information:
Peter du Toit
Dutoit Agri
+27 23312 3136
[email protected]

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