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High Peruvian production keeps asparagus market flat
Plentiful production of Peruvian asparagus is keeping the market flat, according to suppliers. Overall, growing conditions have been favorable in the South American growing districts, and along with the supply from other regions such as Mexico and California, continues to put downward pressure on the market.
"The market has been as low as it's been for a long time," said Scott Laraway, of Coosemans Atlanta. "There has been very plentiful supply which has kept prices overall quite low. It's not been a typical season, with the market being very unpredictable. Twice this season we have seen prices jump from $20 to $40 overnight."
Additionally, Laraway noted that the price spike associated with Valentine's Day has not yet occurred. "Normally, just before Valentine's Day, we tend to see a spike in price," he said. "This is because shipments fill up with flowers and other such imports from South America, creating competition for container space. However, this year we haven't seen that yet."
Mostly green asparagus
The majority of asparagus imported to the United States is of the green variety. White asparagus, however, is also imported from Peru, while the purple variety is also available during the California growing season. The latter though, only represents a small percentage in overall sales and is also higher in price.
"90% of our imported asparagus is green," Laraway said. "Although we also have small amounts of white as well as purple. The purple asparagus is grown in California and is available in May. It remains a niche market due to the high cost, and is primarily found in high-end restaurants as well as sold fresh in farmer's markets. A large percentage of consumers will tend to avoid it because it's expensive and they're unaware of how best to prepare it."
Asparagus is a popular produce item from Peru for importers due to it maintaining its freshness well. "We are able to have supply from Peru all year round," Laraway continued. "It holds up well during shipment and maintains its freshness for weeks after it's picked."
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