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Workers shop for onion at Al Madina Hypermarket in Al Quoz. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Prices of Indian onions in the UAE are expected to rise after India on Sunday banned onion exports, vendors at Dubai’s Al Awir Central Fruit and Vegetable Market told Gulf News on Monday.

They said stocks of Indian onions, popular with consumers from the Indian subcontinent, will run out unless replenished by exports, causing a shortage of Indian onions and a price hike.

India banned onion exports to create more domestic supply and curb rising prices, which have doubled there since July. Indian onion exports were valued at over $496 million (around Dh1.8 billion) in the 2018-19 financial year.

$496m

value of Indian onion exports in 2018-19

In Dubai’s Al Awir market, Indian onion prices have already increased by around Dh1 to Dh3.50 per kg on average, three vegetable sellers quoted as Monday’s price.

Cheaper onions, priced between Dh2 to Dh3 per kg, from Turkey, Egypt and Iran are readily available at Al Awir, Dubai’s main fruit and vegetable market.

“Prices of Indian onions had been increasing already and when the stocks here start running out, they will rise. We used get fresh imports after every couple of days by sea,” said Shahzad Iqbal, a vegetable seller from Pakistan.

Dh3.50/kg

cost of Indian onions in Al Aweer on average, a Dh1 increase

“But I don’t this situation will last long because when the new season’s onion harvest in India comes soon, they will have to sell the produce, easing up the market again. Also, there is a lot of available stock in Dubai.”

Iqbal said around 60 per cent of onions at Al Awir are imported from Turkey, Egypt, Iran and Pakistan – the remaining come mostly from India. He added: “I think customers will buy less onions because they will be more expensive, at least in the short run. People will focus on reducing food waste; onions are used in most dishes, especially in Indian and Pakistani foods.”

Dh2-3/kg

cost of onions from Turkey, Egypt and Iran

Another vendor, Abdul Haq, from Bangladesh, said he buys a standard 3kg bag of onions at a wholesale price of Dh5 and sells it for between Dh6 and Dh7. “A lot of my customers are asking for cheaper onions from other countries and Indian onions are more expensive.”

Vegetable seller Shahid Ul Islam, also from Bangladesh, said Indian onion prices have “not only doubled in India, but world-over. People prefer Indian onions because of their taste. Now India has banned exports, that’s not going to help prices. Some vendors lie they are selling Indian onions so they can ask customers a higher price”.