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May 6, 2010 07:28 PM

Why are onions suddenly so expensive?

It seems to me that onion prices have shot up recently. Loose they're $2 a pound, $3 for red onions at the regular stores. A few months ago they were half that. Does anyone know why? Just curious!

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  1. lower crop yields due to bad weather...but i've read a couple of things that indicate prices are starting to coming down now - thanks to that same screwy weather, growers suddenly have a surplus to unload. let's hope!

    1. Yes, my local grocery store actually had a sign up last week next to the onions saying it's the bad weather and that's why there are, like, four onions in the bin and they look gross and cost $4 a pound!

      I was at an organic grocery store today though and they had a larger selection that was actually cheaper than Ralphs. So hopefully the prices are coming down soon...

      1. It's coming down fast, there was some kind of flooding, in Texas maybe? One thing to remember, when a produce's price is high, there was some kind of weather problem at the source and the quality will be subpar, so avoid unless necessary. Produce is not manufactured and it's up to Nature what happens in the fields.

        6 Replies
        1. re: coll

          Thanks for all the information. Generally speaking, I can avoid high priced and subpar produce; but I cannot avoid onions! I gotta have them. But I agree with nothingswrong: the yellow onions at my local organic store are the same price and look much nicer, so I'm buying them there for the time being.

          1. re: coll

            I'm in the Bay Area and found onion prices high at my local farmer's market, 2x what I usually pay. No flooding here, just our usual winter weather, except for less rain than needed. Debates abound as to whether our drought is really over.

            1. re: rednails

              What planet do you live on. Rainfall is 140% of normal this year in Calfornia. I would call that the end of a drought.

              Word is that an excess of rain has damaged the California onion crop. We have experienced damage to our peach crop as well, because of wetter than normal weather, and unusually late rains and hail.

              1. re: redpeach

                we've had a severe drought for several years now...a couple of unusually wet months with a few extra inches of rain doesn't negate that. reservoir levels are still well below average.

                1. re: redpeach

                  I live and work on planet Earth. You?

                  I work for a catering company, and we get weekly reports on produce pricing. I also read the news daily (first the old-fashioned way, hard copy and then on-line). I see frequent updates in the that we are not anywhere near what we need to get to be in a non-drought condition.

                  And thank you goodhealthgourmet for the back up.

                  1. re: rednails

                    Not to mention that there is no single definition for drought. There are agricultural droughts, hydrological droughts, etc., and different indices are used to calculate them. I believe the National Weather Service issues information, which you can access online.

            2. Yikes! Still $0.77/lb here in IL for loose Vidalias and $3 for a 5lb bag of small yellow onions.

              3 Replies
              1. re: QSheba

                There might be some hope. I'm in the Chicago area - near west burb. One store has them for 2.49/lb, but another one down the street has those two pound mesh bag of white onions for 1.29 per bag. Hopefully they are coming back down to normal pricing.

                1. re: gordeaux

                  As of yesterday, Spanish onions are wholesaling at 50 cents a pound, which is half the price of a couple of weeks ago. So I guess it's easing up but still expensive, usually around 35 cents.

                  1. re: gordeaux

                    When the price dam broke on new-crop white onions at a couple of our ethnically oriented produce stores in Chicago (talking 30-some cents per pound), the onions were really strong and aromatic. The yellow onions grown for storage generally have not been as strong as these.

                2. The Onion Futures Act, passed in 1958, bans the trading of futures contracts in onions, hence the wild volatility in onion prices.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: aynrandgirl

                    Who knew?? You did, which is one of the reasons I love CH'ers.

                    I considered myself lucky to get a 2-lb bag of medium-crappy yellow onions yesterday for $1.99.

                    When will this MADNESS end?? ;)