Peru's asparagus production decreased by 10 to 15% between January and July of this year compared to the same period of 2019, stated the general manager of Complejo Agroindustrial Beta, Lionel Arce Orbegozo. In addition, the exported volume in that period also fell by 15% due to the pandemic and the quarantine established by the Government.
According to Arce, while the restriction of international commercial flights affected the asparagus industry, the worst problem was increased labor costs and domestic transport price hikes (in the case of the Beta Agroindustrial Complex, which exports half of Peru's frozen asparagus, the cost of production increased by up to 30%), due to the actions that the companies took to avoid contagion among workers.
Arce said he expects the asparagus business will be reactivated in the second half of the year. However, he added, to boost the sector and make the Peruvian asparagus offer competitive the National Agrarian Health Service (Senasa) must resume field and packing certifications; in addition to negotiating better export conditions for asparagus with the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS-USDA).
“We get more and more pressure from the destination countries regarding the type of control we have. Australia has paralyzed imports, Japan has us under strong scrutiny and Europe conducted a phytosanitary inspection of our asparagus, which it had never performed in the 30 years we've been exporting this vegetable there. Now we have to filter our exports to Europe and fumigate our shipments to the United States, which affects our competitiveness in relation to Mexico. We have to work on that, especially now that Peru is exporting more of its asparagus to the United States by sea, which, added to the fumigation costs, does not help us,” he said.
"Certification (in the field and packing) is vital for export to any destination. We want asparagus to be included so that it can have an integrated management and to improve phytosanitary conditions. That's something that has to be regulated anyway," Arce pointed out.