High asparagus prices could go higher

04/10/2014 02:43:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Courtesy James PaulGreg Paul, president of Stockton, Calif.-based Greg Paul Produce Sales, inspects recently harvested asparagus April 10. High asparagus prices could go even higher, shippers said in mid-April.

Even with volumes out of California increasing, markets will not likely weaken in the coming weeks, and they could even get tighter, as the Caborca region of Mexico finishes for the season, said James Paul, asparagus and avocado salesman for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.

“Markets for the next couple of weeks will be very similar to where they are now, but they may go up from there as Mexican volumes decline,” Paul said.

On April 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $48.75-52.75 for 28-pound cartons of large bunched green asparagus, up from $26.75-28.75 last year at the same time.

Mexican asparagus wasn’t much cheaper, and was up even more from the year before. Large cartons went for $46.75-48.75 on April 9, up from $18.75 in 2013.

The market is not just supply-driven, Paul said.

“Consumption is up,” he said. “In February and March we probably shipped more than we ever have.”

Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co. expected its Caborca deal to wind down at the end of April, said Chloe Varennes, marketing manager, who chalked up strong demand the week of April 7 to Easter April 20.

Gourmet Trading’s Peruvian deal, which began in mid-March, was picking up steam in April. The company also began packing asparagus in Washington the week of April 7, Varennes said.

Gourmet Trading Co. reported big volumes out of its Caborca deal this season, and expects similar volumes as last year out of Peru and Washington.



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