Asparagus, strawberry volumes shrink

04/12/2013 03:59:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Asparagus volumes could decline significantly in the run-up to Mother’s Day, but strawberry volumes should be closer to normal, despite some interference from Mother Nature.

Asparagus supplies were abundant in early April, thanks to huge volumes from Mexico, but that probably won’t be the case for Mother’s Day, said James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.

“I think supplies will be fair,” Paul said. “The glut we’ve seen here from Mexico should be cleaned up and out of the system in the next few weeks. And the California volumes are nothing to write home about.”

California and Washington should have the Mother’s Day deal to themselves, Paul said. Michigan and New Jersey product won’t likely be in the pipeline yet.

With Mexico done and domestic volumes possibly limited, asparagus could be hard to promote for this Mother’s Day, he said.

The wild card in the Mother’s Day deal, Paul said, is Peru.

“I’ve heard they want to get started, but they’re hesitant based on the prices they’re hearing,” Paul said.

While it won’t be a bumper crop out of California, quality and size should be good, he said.

“We expect some really good quality at that time, and we should peak on standards and larges,” Paul said.

In Washington, meanwhile, most growers should be in full production the week of April 22, said Sharon Heer, general manager of Yakima, Wash.-based Rasmussen Marketing Inc.

Wind damage to Mexican crops would likely hasten the end of the Mexican deal, which should help clear the decks for domestic product in May, she said.

“We’re optimistic that we’ll have a very good year,” Heer said.

Heer also reported good expected quality in early April.

On April 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $18.75 for 28-pound cartons of large and standard bunched green asparagus from Mexico, down from $30.75-32.75 last year at the same time.

Strawberries

Strawberry supplies in some California growing areas could be limited for Mother’s Day thanks to Mother Nature.

Orange County Produce LLC, Irvine, Calif., shipped out of the Oxnard area for Mother’s Day last year, said saleswoman Caroline Chang. The same won’t be true this year.

“It’s been nasty,” she said. “It’s been in the 20s overnight, daytime temperatures in the 40s and 50s. The plants can’t survive.”

Other grower-shippers, expected to have ample supplies of strawberries for Mother’s Day.

“It’s a big crop, and will continue as long as the weather stays in this pattern,” said Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

Verloop reports growing demand for 2-pounders, 4-pounders and other larger packs, especially during high-volume weeks such as those leading up to Mother’s Day.

Naturipe also expects strong cross-promotions of strawberries and blueberries for Mother’s Day, as the Golden State blueberry deal ramps up, Verloop said.

The USDA reports a price of $10 for 12 1-pint baskets of medium and large California strawberries, down from $14-16 last year at the same time.



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