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Know your onions: an infograph

23 July, 2010

An infograph about onion nutrition, trade and high-street prices in the UK

Click on the image to enlarge it

In this graph we present aspects of the onions trade in the UK. There is also a section on nutrition data about raw onions.

The graph is divided in three sections:

A. Nutrition
Some basic nutrition data are presented for raw onions. More than 89gr per 100 (89%) of an onion is water!

B. Trade in the UK
About half of the consumed onions in the UK are imported.

During our basic ‘field’ research we found onions imported from Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, Spain and Tasmania.

When we started our research on the 18th of June (2010) Holland was the main country to provide brown (called ‘white’ or ‘yellow’ by some grocers) onions. Egypt was the provider of red onions (organic and non-organic). More recently New Zealand has taken over Holland on the brown onions niche. Chile provides larger onions and Argentina some organic types.

C. Price of onions
On the graph we have compared the prices of ten (10) ‘high street’ grocers and (for comparison) Abel & Cole and Planet Organic, two online traders of (mainly) organic food.

The final date of our research (‘field’ and on-line) was the 21st/22nd of July, 2010. We visited grocers in Brixton (Iceland, Lidl, TESCO), Old Kent Road (ASDA) Balham (Waitrose), Bayswater (Marks & Spencer, Planet Organic), Holborn (Sainsbury’s), Wood Green (Morrisons) and Catford (The Co-op, Nisa Today’s Supermarket and Ali’s market stall, Sangley Road).

ASDA has the lowest price for brown onions in pack (39.4p per kg) but you have to buy a 5Kg pack. Still, in 2Kg packs they are the cheapest (48.p per Kg). At Lidl for 49p you can buy a 1Kg pack.

Elsewhere
Our market correspondent in Serbia, Jelena Sinadinovic, reports: ‘the price of onions varies between 50-60 Dinars per kilo (around 0.5-0.6 Euro). Last time I bought it, it was around 60-70 Dinars per kilo, so that’s more or less the standard price.’ From her report it looks like Dutch onions are all over Europe at this season: ‘I usually buy ‘domestic’ (organic), white onions, but the market is overcrowded with some Dutch variety which is rather purple in colour but not as tasty and crispy as the ‘domestic’ one – it tastes quite plastic and chewy I’d say, though people buy it in large quantities.’

In Athens, Greece on the same day that we did our research (21 July) the price of onions (Loose) at Gyzi street market was €0.60 – € 0.70 per Kg (Red onions only; origin Thiva, Greece). In the same area, at an Alfa-Beta Vassilopoulos, store the prices of onions were:

  • €0.49 per Kg (Red onions, Loose; origin: Thiva)
  • €0.57 per Kg (Red onions, in net; origin: Thiva)
  • €0.38 per Kg (White onions, Loose, organic; origin: Thiva)
  • €1.76 per Kg (Small onions, in net; origin: Fthiotida)

Quiz!
We have a little quiz for you! E-mail us [ the.missing.graph@gmail.com ] by the end of July 2010, the title of a Cézanne’s painting from the Courtauld Collection that depicts onions on it. If you answer correctly and your name is the first out of the hat we will send you 1/2 kg of any type of onions you like sold in the UK and discussed on this post. Only for UK residents.

TABLE of grocers examined and types of onions sold
(unless otherwise stated all products & prices were checked on the 21st of July 2010)

Grocer Product Origin Package Total Price Price per Kg Price per Unit Display until
LIDL Onions, Red, Class I, “Oaklands”, 50-70mm Egypt 750gr 59p 78.7p
LIDL Onions, White, Class I, “Oaklands”, 60-80mm Holland 1Kg 49p 49p
LIDL Onions, White, Organic, 50-70mm Egypt 500gr 59p £1.18
LIDL Onions, Mild, Class II, 80-100mm New Zealand x3 75p 25p
TESCO Onions, “Cooking”, 50-70m, Class II New Zealand 1Kg £1 £1 30/07/2010
TESCO Onions, Red, Loose, 60-80mm, Class II UK 98p 26/07/2010
TESCO Shallots, Loose Spain £3.49
TESCO Shallots, Sweet, Class II, 28-42mm, “Nurture” Lincs, UK 300gr £1 £3.33 25/07/2010
TESCO Onions, Brown, Organic, 40-60mm Egypt 810gr 94p £1.21 24/07/2010
TESCO Onions, Red, Organic, 50-70mm Egypt 535gr 94p £1.76 28/07/2010
TESCO Onions, Brown, Loose, Class II, 60-80mm New Zealand 89p 26/07/2010
TESCO Onions, Mild, Class II, 70-90mm New Zealand x3 £1 33.3p 31/07/2010
ICELAND Onions, (Brown), ‘Cooking’, Class II New Zealand 1Kg £1 £1 01/08/2010
ICELAND Onions, Large, Class II, 70-90mm New Zealand x3 £1 33.3p 01/08/2010
SAINSBURY’S Shallots, British, 30-45mm Lincolnshire, UK
Grown by Kitchen Garden Produce
400gr £1.45 £3.63 28/07/2010
SAINSBURY’S Onions, Red, Loose, Class II, 55-75mm Beds, UK
Rustler Produce
£1.07
SAINSBURY’S Onions (Brown), Loose, Class I, 50-70mm New Zealand Loose ? 27/07/2010
SAINSBURY’S Onions, Organic, (Brown) Germany, R. Beil 750gr £1 £1.33 29/07/2010
SAINSBURY’S Onions, Large, Class I, 70-90mm New Zealand x3 £1.07 36p 29/07/2010
SAINSBURY’S Onions, Red Suffolk, UK x3 78p 26p 30/07/2010
SAINSBURY’S Onions, ‘Cooking’ New Zealand
Hira Bhana
1Kg £1.07 £1.07 26/07/2010
Grocer Product Origin Package Total Price Price per Kg Price per Unit Display until
M&S Onions, Brown, Class II England Loose 99p
M&S Onions, Red, Class II England Loose £1.49
M&S Onions, Red, Class II, 50-70mm England 500gr 99p £1.98 01/08/2010
M&S Onions, (Brown), Class II, 50-70mm England 750gr 99p £1.32 31/07/2010
M&S Onions, Class II, 70-90mm England or Chile x3 99p 33p 29/07/2010
M&S Shallots, Class II 300g £1.29 £4.3
Waitrose Onions, ‘Essential’, Class I New Zealand 1kg 99p 99p 01/08/2010
Waitrose Onions, (Brown), Organic Holland Loose £1.39
Waitrose Onions, Red, Organic Egypt Loose £1.79
Waitrose Onions, Red, Organic Egypt x4 £1.17 29.3p 01/08/2010
Waitrose Onions, Large, 70-90mm Chile x3 £1.19 39.7p 01/08/2010
Waitrose Onions, (Brown), Organic Argentina 750gr £1.09 £1.45
Waitrose Shallots, Loose England Loose £2.99
Waitrose Shallots New Zealand 300gr 99p £3.3 01/08/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Class II Cambs, England
Farcet Farms
5Kg £1.97 39.4p 26/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Class II, ‘Smart Price’ New Zealand
Bhana, H. or
Lincs, UK
Goose, FF and sons
2Kg 97p 48.5p 25/07/2010 OR
27/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Class II, 50-70mm New Zealand
Balle Brothers or
Southern Fresh Produce
1Kg 87p 87p 28/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Red, Loose, Class II, 65-85mm England, UK Loose 97p 24/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Loose, Class II Loose 87p
ASDA Echalion Shallots, Class I, 30-45mm Beds, UK
Parrish FB
400gr £1.37 £3.42 25/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Red, Organic, Class II, 40-60mm Egypt 500gr 94p £1.88 23/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Organic, Class II, 60-80mm Cambs, UK x3 (large) onions £1.07 35.7p 24/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Red, Class II, 60-80mm New Zealand OR
Egypt
x3 76p 25.3p 27/07/2010 OR
24/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Brown, Large, Class II, 70-90mm New Zealand x3 97p 32p 28/07/2010
ASDA Shallots, 30-45mm Holland
Mts Swifterband
450gr £1.37 £3.04 27/07/2010
ASDA Onions, Red, Class II, 50-70mm New Zealand 1 Kg 97p 97p 28/07/2010
Grocer Product Origin Package Total Price Price per Kg Price per Unit Display until
Morrisons Large onions, class II, loose Chile loose £0.88
Morrisons Red onions, class II, loose New Zealand loose £0.97
Morrisons Onions, class II, 50-65mm New Zealand 400gr £0.5 £1.25 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, Red, Organic, 50-70mm, class ? Egypt 500gr £1 £2 29/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, Value, Class II, 40-55mm New Zealand 1Kg £0.69 £0.69 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, Red, Class II, 50-65mm New Zealand 400gr £0.5 £1.25 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, Class II, 60-80mm Tasmania 1.2kg £1.28 £1.07 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, large, Class II, 80-100mm Chile x3 £1 33.4p 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, red, class II, 60-80mm New Zealand x3 £0.78 26p 26/07/2010
Morrisons Onions, brown, organic, class II, 60-80mm Egypt 750gr £1.10 £1.46 28/07/2010
Morrisons Shallots, Class 1, 30-35mm UK, Lincolnshire 250gr £0.79 £3.16 27/07/2010
Morrisons Shallots, Echalion, class I, 30-50mm UK 300gr £1 £3.34 22/07/2010
Nisa Today’s Supermarket, Muirkirk Road, Catford Onions, red and white Assistant thinks the red ones could be from India? loose 15p (each)
The Co-op Small white onions, class II New Zealand 750g 95p £1.27 27/07/2010
The Co-op Red onions, class II, 70/90mm New Zealand x3 “tube” in plastic net £0.95 £2.2 26/07/2010
The Co-op White onions, class II, 70/90mm Chile x3 “tube” in plastic net £1.1 36.7p 28/07/2010
The Co-op Large white onions New Zealand loose £1
Ali’s market stall, Sangley Road, Catford Large white onions Holland Plastic bowl £1/bowl (around 7) 12p
Ali’s market stall Small white onions Holland Plastic bowl £1/bowl (around 12) 8p
Ali’s market stall Red onions Holland Plastic bowl £1/bowl (around 12) 8p
Planet Organic
(Bayswater)
Onions, Yellow, Organic, Class ? Holland Loose £2.49
Planet Organic
(Bayswater)
Onions, Red, Organic, Class ? Egypt Loose £2.49
Abel & Cole
(Online)*
Onions, White, Organic, Class II (minimum) Holland / UK 500gr £1.23 £2.46
Abel & Cole
(Online)*
Onions, Red, Organic, Class II (minimum) Holland / UK / South America 500gr £1.65 £3.3
Planet Organic
(Online)*
Onions, Yellow, Organic, Class ? Holland 750gr £1.99 £2.65
Planet Organic
(Online)*
Onions, Red, Organic, Class ? Egypt 750gr £2.39 £3.19

*products online were checked on the 22nd of July 2010

Sources:
nutritiondata.com / Raw Onions

Basic Horticultural Statistics – Defra

Abel & Cole – Onions

Planet Organic

Credits:
Nicholas Primentas (Athens Correspondent)
Olga Primenta (Athens Correspondent)
Adela Pickles (The Co-op and local markets Correspondent)
Shena Aitkenhead (Morrisons Correspondent)
Jelena Sinadinovic (Serbia Correspondent)

If you found this post interesting, why not have a look at our posts about:
Potatoes in the UK or
Carrots in the UK

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