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Hans Lehar, UCI Nordbaden eG:

Germany: First local asparagus from heated cultivation hits the the market

The first asparagus from home soil has been available from specialist retailers for about a week. The fruit and vegetable sales cooperative (OGA) Nordbaden eG has also brought their first lots on the market. The first product of this year's season has a good quality and a nice white colour. Whether the asparagus from unheated cultivation can be sold before the end of the month is still unclear, says Hans Lehar, director of the Baden-Württemberg marketing company.

The first lots of the year were produced by a Bavarian producer and are qualitatively satisfactory, having a pronounced white colour. The current prices are very different depending on sorting, but they are on average 20 euros per kg for the customer. Although the season in the asparagus business started somewhat earlier over the years, this year it started at the same time as last year. Lehar: "Of course it's always a question of when producers start to heat their land. Because of the cold and the frost in the last few weeks, however, it has made little sense to switch on the heating system early and so everything was delayed quite a bit.”

Managing Director Hans Lehar at his booth at the recent Fruit Logistica in Berlin

White gold
Over the years, using foil tunnels and heating systems the season has been started earlier and earlier. Whether these measures are actually successful, depends primarily on the temperature and the substrate. Because of this, currently new varieties are not really a hot topic, unlike what s happening with other products. Lehar: "Every specialist is testing new varieties, but they do not talk much about them. On the one hand because it is a trade secret, but on the other hand it is because varieties do not play a big role with asparagus. This is because the taste of the asparagus mainly depends on the type of soil.” It does not matter in which region the asparagus was harvested: as soon as the domestic products are there in large quantities, the demand is there. At that time, products from Peru, the Netherlands and elsewhere hardly get any attention from the customer.

Despite the rising supply of domestic and foreign green asparagus, the white stems are still by far the favourites of the German consumer, says Lehar. This also applies to organic produce, which currently accounts for a small proportion of total consumption compared to conventional cultivation. According to Lehar, the asparagus is generally one of the most important products from our own soil because of the production volumes. Since the market situation fluctuates weekly due to the temperature, Lehar does not dare to make any predictions. "If temperatures remains stable, we will be able to offer regional asparagus from unheated fields at the end of the month."

The OGA and OGV Nordbaden eG are a cooperatively organized marketing facility for fruit and vegetables. At the locations in Bruchsal and Heidelberg, the company has an area of approx. 60,000 m² with warehouses, cold rooms, technical facilities, packing stations, administration buildings and open spaces. Qualified employees, modern technology, flexible logistics systems and a lot of experience make for a perfect combination.

In addition to asparagus, the cooperative also markets stone and pome fruit, as well as organic products from regional fields. The clientele consists mainly of food retailers, fruit and vegetable retailers and industrial companies in the southwest of Germany.

For more information:
Hans Lehar
Industriestr. 1-3
D-76646 Bruchsal
Telefon +49 7251 8002-0
Telefax +49 7251 8002-99

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