Onions are the bulbs of plants in the lily family. Onions can be eaten raw, cooked, pickled, used as a flavoring or seasoning, or dehydrated. Onions rank in the top 10 vegetables produced in the U.S. in terms of dollar value. Since 1629, onions have been cultivated in the U.S., but are believed to be indigenous to Asia.
The two main types of onions produced in the U.S. are yellow and white onions. Yellow varieties comprise approximately 75% of all onions grown for bulb production in the U.S. Onions that are planted as a winter crop in warm areas are milder in taste and odor than onions planted during the summer in cooler regions.
Prices - Onion prices in 2007 averaged $21.68 per hundred pounds, up +38.1% from $15.70 in 2006. Monthly onion prices were strong in early 2007 reaching a high of $57.20 in April, but then moved sharply lower the rest of the year to $4.13 in December.
Supply - U.S. production in 2006 fell -0.4% to 7.318 billion pounds, down farther below the 2004 record high of 8.307 billion pounds. The farm value of the U.S. production crop in 2006 rose +24.5% to a record high of $1.057 billion. U.S. farmers harvested 164,980 acres in 2006, down -1.4% from 2005. The yield per acre in 2006 was 444 pounds per acre.
Demand - U.S. per capita consumption of onions in 2006 fell -2.9% to 21.6 pounds from 22.2 pounds in 2005.
Trade - U.S. exports of fresh onions in 2006 totaled 668 million pounds, and imports were not far behind at 659 million pounds.