Agri Business

Dehydrated onion can be a substitute amid spiralling bulb prices

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on December 11, 2019 Published on December 11, 2019

Dehydrated onion (file photo)

They are low-cost and easy to store, but not too popular in the retail markets

Even as spiralling prices have made onion practically out of reach for the common man, processing units are showcasing a promising solution in the dehydrated version of the bulb. What makes it more than just affordable is the fact that it can be stored conveniently for a longer period in small quantities.

Dehydrated vegetable players said 1 kg of ‘dry’ onion, when re-hydrated for use, becomes the equivalent of 8-10 kg of fresh onion. While e-commerce players have listed a few brands of dehydrated onion, it’s not too popular in the retail market.

The reason, industry insiders explained, ranges from habit and taste preferences to availability and accessibility in the retail market. There is also the issue of categorisation. It is difficult to market ‘dry’ onion because it is neither fresh vegetable nor processed food nor ready-to-eat.

Cost-effective

“From the cost point of view, at the current rate of ₹160-170 a kg, dehydrated onion is much cheaper than fresh onion even at its peak price levels,” Ghanshyam Patel, Chairman, Mahuva APMC in Gujarat, told Businessline. “When rehydrated for use, this 1 kg becomes 8-10 kg of fresh onion. This is the biggest advantage of the dehydrated products. But the disadvantage is that it isn’t popular among retail consumers. That’s why we don't see it so often on our table.”

Mahuva, the hub of onion dehydration units in Gujarat, has seen over 100 facilities handling nearly two-thirds of the country’s onion dehydration capacities. The units operate in full swing in January-June, when most of the processing takes place and onions are dehydrated in the form of either flakes or powder.

Export market

Most of these products, Patel said, are exported as there is huge demand in the overseas markets, particularly from the hospitality and restaurant industries. Gujarat alone produces about 70,000 tonnes of dehydrated onion annually, of which 50,000-55,000 tonnes are exported. The remaining quantity is consumed locally, mostly by the restaurant and hotel industries.

“There is good potential to make dehydrated onions popular even among households. For this the government and the unit owners need to work in coordination and pool in their efforts,” added Patel.

Published on December 11, 2019
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