(UPDATED COVERAGE, 3:28 p.m.) Importers of Mexican and Peruvian asparagus expect markets to strengthen in December.

The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles, began bringing in asparagus from the Obregon region of Mexico in October through Giumarra Borquez LLC, its joint venture with Caborca, Mexico-based Campo Pablo Borquez, said James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman.

“It’s been a very good season so far,” Paul said.

“We’ve had very high quality, and we expect it to even improve as we head into December, thanks to cooler temperatures.”

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Carb Americas Inc. will import asparagus from Peru only until January, when it will add product from Mexico, said Jeff Friedman, president.

The only wrinkle in November for Giumarra was slightly small sizing, but Paul also expected that to change as temperatures continue to fall.

“We expect to have a higher percentage of larges,” he said.

Shipments from Obregon should last through the first week of January, when production shifts to Caborca, Paul said. In about March, the company’s deal will switch back to Obregon.

Giumarra Borquez expects to ship about 30% more Mexican asparagus this season, Paul said. Industry-wide, however, he expects volumes to be down, due in part to fewer expected imports from Peru.

Thanksgiving markets were running just as predicted in mid-November, with boxes fetching $24-28, Paul said. Those prices will likely go up because of the expected lower volumes.

On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $19-20 for 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbo and extra-large asparagus from Peru. Large and standard received $20.50-21, and small received $16.75-18.50.

“Demand is excellent,” he said. “The price will certainly climb into the $30s, if not higher, for the month of December,” he said.

Friedman also expected strong markets in December.

“It’s no secret that Peru is shipping less volume into the U.S.” than in the past several years, he said.

“Air freight is high, and Peruvian shippers want high f.o.b.s.”

Though fall and winter Peruvian volumes are expected to be lower, year-to-date volumes through Nov. 17 are up, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. About 125 million pounds had shipped, up from 103 million pounds last year at the same time.

In the week ending Nov. 17, about 3.2 million pounds of asparagus were imported from Peru, comparable to last year at the same time.

Prices will likely be in the low $20s in December, Friedman said. They will rise throughout the month and could reach the low $30s by Christmas.