Asparagus importers said Mexico could play a bigger role in the deal this fall, and Peruvian volumes could be down because of demand from Europe and processing markets.

Peruvian asparagus volumes will likely drop while Mexican volumes rise this fall, said James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.

Increased demand from the processing side should cut into fresh volumes from Peru, Paul said. In Mexico, meanwhile, plantings are up substantially in some parts of the Baja and Obregon growing regions.

Peruvian weekly volumes were normal for Miami-based Crystal Valley Foods in mid-September, said Rick Durkin, director of business development.

Traditionally, Durkin said, the fall asparagus deal belongs to Peru. That may not be the case this year.

“The big question is, ‘What happens out of Mexico?’”

Peter Hill, director of grower relations and food safety for Alpine Fresh Inc., Doral, Fla., also reported normal weekly Peruvian volumes in September, with excellent quality and a nice variety of sizes, though the size profile hasn’t been as big as in other seasons.

Peruvian volumes will likely peak in late September and early October, Hill said.

New pockets of microclimates in Mexico are starting to produce more asparagus for fall markets. Durkin said.

Giumarra wrapped up its Central Mexico asparagus deal the week of Sept. 10, Paul. Product was coming in from central and southern Baja in mid-September, though Paul said some shippers may have jumped the gun, sacrificing quality for the chance to cash in on strong markets.

Paul reported prices in the $18.75-22.75 range on Sept. 17.

“I think the market will stay steady for a week, then dip down a hair as more comes in from Peru and Baja.”

Markets could stay firm through the holidays, but it all depends on how much product Mexico sends north, Durkin said. For the past three seasons, he said, it’s been very difficult to forecast prices.

Hill expected pricing to remain fairly steady heading into October.

On Sept. 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $22-24 for 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbo asparagus from Peru, comparable to last year at the same time.

Quality is very good out of Peru this year, Durkin said, but importers were fighting to get bigger sizes, thanks to competition from Europe. As the Ica, Peru, deal picks up steam, however, sizing could improve.

Both the Baja and Obregon regions will likely come into volume in early October, Paul said.