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Rudolf Grunder from Landi Seebachtal on this year's asparagus season in Switzerland

"Promotions with imported asparagus have depressed demand for the domestic product"

Due to the wet weather, some asparagus farms in Switzerland have had to end their harvest earlier. "For us, 15 June tends to be the deadline for the end of the season. Hardly anyone in our region will harvest beyond this date this year. Overall, this year's harvest volumes are slightly below last year's level. Although the early covered crops started a little earlier, periods of low temperatures and waterlogging slowed down the growth of the asparagus, which is why larger quantities of outdoor crops could only be harvested after a delay. In some places, we even had to accept frost-related losses, although the quality was very good throughout the season," summarises Rudolf Grunder, Managing Director of Landi Seebachtal, one of the leading marketers of Swiss asparagus.

Demand has been high and stable for the most part right from the start, continues Grunder. This is particularly true in the last few weeks of the season. "Unfortunately, there were promotions with imported products in the retail trade during the two main harvest weeks, which in turn depressed demand for local asparagus at an unfavourable time. In terms of price, we have a good situation in Switzerland. A working group consisting of representatives from production and trade sets the prices for the next season in autumn. A higher price applies before the main harvest in order to compensate producers for their additional costs. The price change is then determined by the working group during the season, depending on the weather situation. The majority of the sector adheres to these guide prices." However, there is no border protection for asparagus in Switzerland. According to Grunder, there is therefore always a certain amount of price competition with imported goods.

Rudolf Grunder (left) with his cooperation partner Christoph Sterk from Sterk Spargelpflanzen at expoSE 2023. The asparagus expert emphasises that the regeneration of asparagus plants is always very important.

Green asparagus is growing strongly
Green asparagus is also becoming increasingly important in Switzerland. "The area under cultivation is around 460 hectares, with green asparagus accounting for just over 60 per cent. The proportion of local asparagus sold throughout the year is just 7 per cent," says Grunder. In years with ideal growing conditions, demand can be met with the domestic production volume. However, due to the lack of import protection, the growth potential of domestic asparagus is limited. "Nevertheless, the willingness and commitment of domestic food retailers to offer domestic asparagus during the season is very high. Despite the considerable price differences, Swiss asparagus is in high demand among consumers." In addition to sales via the domestic food retail trade, the local fine vegetables are also marketed in the wholesale trade and in farm-gate sales.

Landi Seebachtal sees itself primarily as a competence centre and is also heavily involved in the marketing of asparagus plants in close cooperation with the Franconian plant propagator Sterk. In addition, the centre also works with the cantonal specialist agencies to provide further training and advice to growers. "A direct exchange of experience between producers is very important. This also includes our annual presence at expoSE in Karlsruhe. We provide technical support to existing producers and newcomers. Acquisition is also part of this, especially when there are changes in the region as part of the generational transition. Thanks to our marketing centre, interest in asparagus cultivation on the producer side is encouragingly high," concludes Grunder.

For more information:
Rudolf Grunder
Landi Seebachtal AG
Amtacker 2
8476 Unterstammheim
T: +41 52 748 00 43
[email protected]

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