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Factors that impact U.S. asparagus imports and per capita consumption

Last year, the U.S. imported about 580 million pounds of asparagus with Mexico and Peru being the main suppliers, followed by Canada. While Peru experienced a five percent increase in year-over-year import value, total volume showed a 24 percent decline over the previous year. "The weather phenomena of 2023 resulted in a year like no other, with Cyclone Yako leaving northern Peru devastated and exports of fresh asparagus very challenging," says Carlos Solf of Southern Specialties and co-chairman of the Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association (PAIA). "Yet, Peru demonstrated resilience and proved profitable to the U.S. in import values."

Asparagus imports from Mexico were also down last year. The country has been dealing with a lack of rain, causing a shortage of water. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find laborers to maintain and harvest the crop. As a result, total imports last year were down 12 percent compared to the year before.

This table shows U.S. asparagus imports over the past two years:

Sourcing country Imports in lbs. 2022 Imports in lbs.
YOY variation
Mexico 359,459,302 338,992,915 -6%
Peru 214,040,192 163,213,499 -24%
Canada 4,447,164 6,056,098 +36%
Total 580,098,156 510,819,654 -12%

Source: USDA

Lack of promotion slows down consumption
While supply has been lower due to weather events and labor shortages, consumption is also witnessing a decline. Preliminary numbers show that per capita consumption of fresh asparagus is down 15 percent in 2022 over 2021. According to PAIA, a lack of consistent promotion is the main reason for the decline. This year, the association will focus even more on spreading valuable information about fresh asparagus to industry trade press, retailers, and foodservice. It has put together a report called 2023/2024 Fresh Asparagus Category Trends, Statistics & Demographics. "The report provides U.S. retailers with essential statistics and customized demographics that will enable them to increase the sale of fresh asparagus," says Priscilla Lleras, Executive Director of PAIA. The report indicates that families with a household income of $100,000 or more are most likely to purchase asparagus. From this income group, 49 percent is prone to buying fresh asparagus and overall, 37 percent of U.S. consumers stated they purchased fresh asparagus in the past 12 months, which is an increase of 11 percent over the previous year. "This is the perfect opportunity for retailers to promote fresh asparagus year-round with various types of SKUs, including value-added products," shared Craig Rolandelli of JMB and co-chairman of PAIA. "Promotions will result in year-round sales for retailers as well as the commodity."

For more information:
Priscilla Lleras
Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association
Tel: (+1) 817 – 793 -3133
[email protected]