A New Zealand asparagus breeder sees scope for the industry making a “tremendous breakthrough” via the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Dr Peter Falloon has stated that New Zealand used to export 1,600 tonnes of the delicacy, but has lately 'gone off the radar'. “I think we’d have been lucky last year to have exported 100 tonnes.”
The reason, he says, is that Mexico has a free trade agreement with Japan, while Japan and Korea impose tariffs of 28 or 30% on our asparagus.
Falloon expects the trade to pick up as those tariffs fall under the CPTPP. He points out that Mexican asparagus grows fast in the heat, using up its sugars, while NZ asparagus grows more slowly in the cooler climate and ends up tasting better.
Falloon no longer produces large quantities of asparagus himself. However, he has carved out a niche as the only asparagus breeder in the southern hemisphere –and one of only six in the world– producing seed and crowns for both the domestic and export markets. A recognised expert on the fungal disease phytophthora, he offers the only phytophthora-resistant asparagus strains.