According to EastFruit analysts, onions remain the most sought-after position in the global vegetable trade, and onion prices in many countries have broken records and continue to grow. The question “where to buy onions” remains very popular in the search, leading to unconventional sales transactions. Also, many countries have introduced an export ban, which further exacerbated the situation.
We wrote about the reasons for this many times. We advise you to read our January onion longread here.
Given the high prices for onions, primarily, two categories of countries can buy them:
- Rich, high-income countries
- Countries with efficient logistics and no import duties or other trade barriers.
True, these two categories in most cases coincide, because the liberalization of trade leads to an increase in the welfare of the country.
Since the global onion market has undergone significant changes in 2022, and the years 2023-2024 promise no fewer shocks for the onion trade, we should now pay attention to those countries that have increased their imports of onions most dynamically. In 5-6 months, the urgent question “where to buy onions?” can turn into an equally urgent question “where to sell onions?”.
In 2022, Ukraine showed the sharpest growth in onion imports among the TOP-20 importers. It should be noted that Ukraine entered the TOP-20 in 2022 because the Russian aggressor invaders destroyed the bulk of the effective onion production in the country. The growth of onion imports to Ukraine, as a result, was almost 7 times higher.
Read also: Overview of the regional onion market – will prices reach $2 per kilogram?
Among the TOP-5 largest importers, the UK showed the highest import dynamics having increased imports by 59% or 136 000 tonnes per year. By the way, there is now a shortage of vegetables and fruits in UK supermarkets, and onions are one of the scarcest items.
Saudi Arabia, which remained the world’s third largest importer of onions after the United States and Malaysia, also increased imports by more than a third. By the way, onion imports to the United States remained virtually unchanged over the year – 661 000 tonnes, while onion imports to Malaysia increased by 8% or 40 000 tonnes to 525 000 tonnes.
Côte d’Ivoire rounds out the TOP-5 importers. Deliveries to this country increased by 5% over the year. Japan, Sri Lanka, and Canada are next in the ranking – they increased their imports by 5%, 19%, and 3% respectively. Attention should also be paid to the positive dynamics of onion imports by Indonesia (plus 55% or 63 000 tonnes) and Brazil (plus 29% or 34 000 tonnes). Taiwan, South Korea, and Colombia also continued to rapidly increase onion imports.
By the way, Uzbekistan also made its debut among the major importers of onions – it imported 21 200 tonnes of onions in 2022 – a record volume of onion imports. In the first months of 2023, this figure can be surpassed if Uzbek importers find onion suppliers.
As for onion exporters, India, China, and Iran most sharply increased onion exports in 2022. India exported more than 2 million tonnes of onions in a year for the first time, increasing shipments by 48% in a year. Suppliers from China increased the export of onions by a quarter, and the volume of exports exceeded 835 000 tonnes. Iran has also updated its export record, 478 000 tonnes, having increased onion exports by 24% in 2022.
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