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Tight supplies through January

Ontario importing asparagus via its Peruvian program

Ontario has a strong local program within the province during the summer but at this time of year Fresh Start Foods relies on imports from both Mexico and Peru. “We have a strong import program out of Peru right now which is where most of our asparagus comes from,” said John Bishop, Director of Purchasing for Fresh Start Foods. “The asparagus market is very hot right now because of the upcoming holiday.” Some of it is processed into some of their blends but most gets sold to their restaurant, foodservice and healthcare provider customers within Ontario.

Supply is a little tight. Peru isn’t in overabundant production and Mexico is somewhat between growing regions currently and, Bishop says, with the extra pull of the holidays there’s a little bit of stress on the market. “From what I’m hearing from my sources in Peru and Mexico it’s expected that we should see tighter supplies right through until January.” Typically a box of asparagus is running 30-35% higher last week than it was during a ‘normal’ time of year. He says it may go up more. They’re importing close to 300-400 cartons a week. 

Consumption is fairly steady. With the customers they have they don’t see the ups and downs of retail; the vegetables served are planned about a month ahead. “As we get into the season if (people) find asparagus a little too much they’ll switch up their daily veg with a substitute such as French beans but I haven’t seen that so far,” he said. “This time of year operators are busy; restaurants are full.”

Peru’s quality is “so-so,” Bishop said, “but nothing that is unreasonable.” Airfreight from Peru is currently a bit of a challenge, coupled with the holidays and can be unreliable. “We get loads that get bumped but other than that there’s no major challenges.”

For more information
John Bishop
Fresh Start Foods Canada Ltd.
Tel: (905) 875-5216