Skip to main content
Ongoing project

Enhancing the usability of onions (VN22001)

Key research provider: The Growth Drivers

What's it all about?

This project provides the onion industry with short and long-term recommendations to increase the use of onions in the foodservice sector.

Led by innovation consultants The Growth Drivers and supported by a reference group of onion industry experts, this project seeks to support onion growers across Australia. The objective is to clarify the potential of Australian onion products to capture market share currently held by imported onion products, as well as examining any barriers. By providing such insights, the project aims to aid strategic decision-making for R&D and revenue growth at the farm level.

The analysis involves two components: qualitative insights from interviews spanning the foodservice and manufacturing supply chains (primarily large market participants), and quantitative insights from trade data and commodity pricing trends from online platforms. These elements combine to offer greater clarity on the presence of imported onion products in Australia.

From the analysis, it is difficult to ascertain a clear and addressable market opportunity for Australian onions to capture market share from imported onion products - either fresh, IQF or dehydrated.

It was identified that imported onions are unequivocally price-driven and often transient - reflective of macroeconomic conditions. This has led to several larger businesses opting for imported onions over Australian grown as a longer-term strategic decision. Whereas smaller businesses dealing in lower volumes may opt to substitute with import as a short-term response to more acute macroeconomic conditions such as those experienced during the 2021 floods in Australia that impacted several growing regions.

The investigation shows that Australian onions hold a commanding position in the market and that there are several barriers to substitution, preventing further capture of market share by imports. To further bolster the industries position we provided several areas to be considered for further research, along with recommendations. These include ongoing monitoring of imports in the market, improving communication and collaboration across processed supply chains, ensuring processors are considered in R&D initiatives, and better understanding how macroeconomics influence the prevalence of imports.  

This body of work has been completed to provide clear guidance for future work and funding to progress the Australian onions and adjacent industries in addressing the threat posed by processed imports with substantial evidence and practical recommendations. This work was completed by TGD on behalf of Hort Innovation and the Australian rubus sector, with support from numerous Growers, Processors, Manufacturers and Foodservice providers, and funded through the Onions research and development levies.

Related levy funds

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Onion Fund