According to Cayo Martinez Sainz, vice president of the Regulatory Council of the Espárrago de Navarra Geographical Indication and manager of the Viuda de Cayo canning company, there are good expectations for Navarra's asparagus campaign. “The preparation work in the field has been done very well. There is a lot of humidity because of the snowfall in winter and the land is spectacular for an excellent campaign. At the moment, the hotel business is closed everywhere except Madrid. That is a setback for fresh asparagus, although we hope that it will reopen after Easter,” he stated. "It is a better scenario than last year, but it is not a normal situation."
The Horeca sector has been one of the most affected sectors by the restrictions derived from the pandemic. Retail sales of asparagus have increased, but they haven't compensated for the loss of this important channel. “The margin in retail is very small. Asparagus makes its profit in the Horeca sector,” Cayo Martinez stated. "In round figures, 1 of the 4 million certified kilos goes to the Horeca sector and 3 million to the retail sector."
Navarra asparagus has been under the Specific Denomination since 1986, and under the Protected Geographical Indication since 2003. This product, which people mainly think is canned, can also be consumed fresh and the opportunity to taste it begins in April, with the beginning of its harvesting season, and lasts until June.
In the last two years, fewer asparagus have been planted in the region. However, Cayo Martinez is not concerned since the product achieved its IGP. “Three or four years ago there was a significant increase and there must be a control of the plantations. As long as we have a harvest of 3.5 and 4 million kilos the market will be able to take it well. We have to avoid bottlenecks,” he stated. "I think the processing sector will process the same amount of kilos as last year."
“The most important thing this year is that there are no closures, lockdowns, or outbreaks. Other products can be kept in chambers or left in the fields, but we can't do that with asparagus. The processing sector fears COVID and outbreaks,” he added.