Supplies of asparagus could be tight for another one to two weeks.
In Mexico, the weather has affected the asparagus supply in both Baja and San Luis. “It’s been cool and rainy and rather tight to cover Mexico until we get farther south. That’s when we’ll see some improvement on supplies,” says John Bishop with Fresh Start Foods Canada Ltd. Production from Caborca is, weather-permitting, anticipated to begin in late January-early February.
However, on the East coast, there are difficulties in supplies from Peru in light of the country’s political unrest. “There have been challenges, especially around Christmas when the state of emergency was first enacted there, to get product harvested and shipped into East coast ports,” says Bishop, noting though that there had already been product on the water at that time. “There’s going to be a bit of a gap in supply from Peru because there had been some confusion about getting product from the growers to the boat to get them shipped out. Things have calmed down a little bit and then once Mexico gets up and running, we’ll start seeing the easing of markets. In the next week to two weeks, things will be pretty tight.”
Demand easing up
That said, demand for asparagus has lightened following the good demand seen for the holidays. Demand particularly in Canada has also likely lightened given the colder temperatures and Canadians’ tendency to start “hibernating” at this time of year. This means foodservice may be where product will shift. “We could see them move to other green options for the plate i.e. zucchini, beans, etc. until asparagus pricing is better,” Bishop says.
Pricing is stronger compared to this time last year. It’s currently $40 while last year was $30 at this time, landed Canadian dollars.
So where will pricing head in the near future? “With demand being lighter and supply being lighter, what there is available on the open market will be higher,” says Bishop, noting Mexican growers will work towards covering contracts first and the remaining product will be available on the open market. “So with Peru coming up short possibly the next one to two weeks, I suspect the market will go up.”
Looking further ahead, Bishop also notes it’s looking forward to the start of the local crop. “We should start to see product out of California hopefully in March, then Washington in April and Michigan and Ontario in May,” he says.