Dutch onion isn’t “just an onion”
The Netherlands got reacquainted with the onion. At the International Onion Congress in Middelburg, the new promotional campaign was introduced, and news sites reported that the Dutch onion isn’t “just an onion”, but has a leading position in the world with over 15% in the global export market. Nearly everyone in onion exporting and packing in the Netherlands was present at the launch, including suppliers, breeders and government representatives. Together with international guests from Germany, Poland, Spain, France, the United States and Denmark, this made for a turnout of over 120 people.
Chairman Gijsbrecht Gunter of the Holland Onion Association painted a picture of the global onion market, with a production of 70 million tonnes, around 90% of which is consumed locally, and 8% exported. In view of the increasing global population, particularly in areas where many onions are consumed, Gijsbrecht said a production volume of 120 million tonnes in 2050 would be a realistic scenario, saying he expected the export of onions from the Netherlands to be able to grow to 2 million tonnes until 2050. He said it would be a challenge to better present the entire Dutch onion story internationally, from breeding to sustainable cultivation, packaging, export, and efficient logistics. Provincial executive Jo-Annes de Bat then revealed the new promotion concept, with an actual onion cake becoming visible.
After Hans Christophe Behr presented the European onion yield figures, Wayne Mininger of the National Onion Association from the US took to the stage. He talked about the population in the USA, which exploded from below 100 million to 320 million. Since the Second World War, Mininger said, American agriculture has realized an annual 2.1% increase in production. In the same period of time, the average amount of income an American spends on food, has halved from 20 to 10%. He said the idea for the American onion industry is to supply every category with onions. “We are a nation of immigrants, and with more ethnic backgrounds, we expect more diversity in culture and culinary preferences compared to any other country in the world. We supply them with onions in all seasons, colours, sizes, both peeled and frozen.”
“People buy with their hearts“
Thomas Eskesen, former vice president at Maersk Line, talked about the latest logistical developments. He called shipping one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with a 5% annual growth being expected until 2020. In 2009, however, this sector was hit hard by the economic crisis. He pointed to the permanent shift from production economies to low cost countries and the increasing containerization. “While five years ago most of the entrepreneurs worked with shippers on an ad hoc basis, alliances are now the rule in this industry.”