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Peru: Asparagus exports fell by 5% in the last four years

The main asparagus production areas in Peru are Ica, which concentrates 45% of the total area devoted to this vegetable, and La Libertad with 43% of the area, according to information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (Minagri) of 2015. The rest of the plantations are located in Lima, Ancash, and Lambayeque.

The Foreign Trade Company of Peru (Comex Peru) indicated that Peru has the climatic conditions to produce this vegetable throughout the year, unlike the countries of the northern hemisphere. This represents an advantage for Peru, as it can continuously supply the foreign market, which is led by the United States, according to the International Trade Center (ITC).

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), per capita consumption of asparagus in that country has increased steadily over the past 15 years. Thus, the North American asparagus market represents a great opportunity for Peru; which the country should take better advantage of. 

In 2017, Peruvian asparagus exports accounted for 4.7% of total non-traditional shipments and 10.7% of those of the agricultural sector. Fresh or refrigerated asparagus were the third non-traditional agricultural product that was exported the most in 2017 (behind fresh grapes and avocados). In addition, according to the ITC, in 2016 Peru was the second biggest exporter of fresh or chilled asparagus in the world, only behind Mexico.

Between 2010 and 2017, total asparagus exports had an accumulated growth of 27.6%, as they went from US $427 million to US $545 million, with an average annual growth of 3.5%. 

According to Comex Peru, this result was mainly due to the increase in shipments of fresh or refrigerated asparagus (+40.8%), which had an average annual growth of 5%, as well as to the increase in exports of frozen asparagus that has been cooked in water or steam (+22%), which had an average annual growth of 3%. Meanwhile, exports of prepared or canned asparagus, not frozen, fell by 7%, as they had an average annual decrease of 1%, which limited the growth of total shipments of asparagus.

Old asparagus plants cause a fall in national production 
The trade union said that despite the cumulative increase in exports between 2010 and 2017, during recent years, the Peruvian shipments of asparagus have had a downward trend. After having had sustained growth between 2010 and 2013, Peruvian exports of asparagus fell by 5% between 2014 and 2017, which means there was an average annual decrease of 1.7%, going from US $574 million to US $545 million. 

According to a study by the Department of Economic Studies of Scotiabank, this tendency would be due to a lower national production, which, in turn, could result in a decrease in productivity. The study indicates that the land used to produce asparagus would be used for the production of other crops that are more profitable.


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