Asparagus imports from Peru up from last year

09/10/2003 12:00:00 AM
Chris Koger

(Sept. 10) MIAMI — Asparagus importers say the Peruvian crop is slower in hitting its seasonal surge, but overall exports through the end of the year should surpass last year’s totals as asparagus is diverted from the processed market.

“The situation is expected to change within the next two weeks,” Shannon Barthel, senior sales representative for Central American Produce Inc., Pompano Beach, said Sept. 9. “We’ll see promotable volumes at that time.”

Peru exports asparagus year-round, but as the country’s winter season ends in September, volumes rapidly increase and Mexico’s season curtails. Peru’s volumes taper off in January.

“The market has been fairly decent, ranging from $14-16 f.o.b.s out of Miami,” said Mike Rubidoux, vice president of sales and marketing for Lee Brands LLC, Salinas, Calif., which started importing Peruvian asparagus from Ica, Paracas and Canete in late August.

Spot market prices were slightly higher, hitting $17 on occasion, Barthel said.

Dan Wahl, president of United Fresh International Inc., Miami, said prices were beginning to increase the second week of September.

“This week, the prices have definitely gone up, they’ve gone up several dollars per box,” Wahl said.

Caribbean imports, mainly from Peru, were $16 for 11-pound cartons of bunched jumbo green asparagus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market News Service reported on Sept. 9. Cartons of extra-large were $13-14, large were $14.50 and standard-sized asparagus was $15.50.

Mexican asparagus shipments, which are dropping as the season ends, were also hampered by rain, according to the USDA. The price for cartons of standard-sized asparagus from Mexico was $16 on Sept. 9; large sizes were $15-16.

“Normally there’s a little bit of overlap (with Mexico and Peru), but because we’re nearing the end of Peru’s winter, you sometimes see this,” Barthel said about the later upswing in Peruvian exports.

Production in Chile is expected to increase the second half of September.

“Peru’s volume drives the market, but Chile has some nice asparagus and they have some production,” said Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., South Hackensack, N.J.



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