Onions are a food staple and Australians consume approximately 11 kilograms per capita every year. A member of the Allium family, onions are Australia’s fourth largest vegetable crop accounting for 9% of total vegetable production.
Onions Australia is the peak industry body for the Australian onion industry, and the association’s most recent data suggests there are approximately 380 onion growers nationally. The Australian onion industry provides for both domestic and international markets. Two-thirds of the domestic market onions are grown in South Australia. Exporting accounted for 85 per cent of the Tasmanian market.
The onion industry in Australia is considered ‘mature’, and neither the value nor volume of production has changed greatly during the last 10 years. Industry statistics suggest production levels of 240,000 tonnes are routinely achieved. The average annual cost of production is estimated at $361/tonne (ABARE, 2007/08). The gross value of production (GVP) averaged $181 M/year between 2006 and 2008. This is not significantly different to the GVP achieved in 2001-02. The value of exports has been estimated at $27 million (Clarke et al., 2010).
The Allium family contains more than 300 species including Leeks, Garlic, Spring Onions, Shallots and Chives. The pungent onion smell is caused by the presence of allicins which is released when part of the bulb is cut. This is what causes your eyes to water.
It can take from three to six months for onions to germinate from seed to bulb, depending on region, soil type and the location’s climatic conditions.
For more information see this Onions Australia article, or view more onion production graphs from the ABS. Current onion industry members and levey payers can access over 25 years of research and development on the Onions Australia website.