(Feb. 4) Gourmet Trading Co., Los Angeles, has formed an exclusive alliance with Minneapolis-based The Sholl Group II Inc., to relaunch Green Giant Fresh branded asparagus in March.

“The brand has been managed by other companies in the past, but hasn’t been on the market for several years,” said Chris Martin, president and chief executive officer of Gourmet Trading Co. “Our license is for all fresh asparagus under the Green Giant brand.”

Martin said Gourmet Trading commands about 22% of the U.S. fresh asparagus market, which he said is about 350 million pounds.

Initially, the asparagus will be sourced out of Mexico, he said.

“Because of the massive decline of the California crop, we’ll actually go from Mexico straight up to Washington, skip over California, and then down to central Mexico and Peru,” he said.

He said the company will market the Green Giant and Gourmet brands. The company also packs and distributes a small amount of private-label asparagus, he said.

“We will maintain and strengthen our own brand so we will be marketing two brands, which will help us a lot in quite a few markets,” he said. “We have a strong following for the Gourmet brand and we will build on the already strong following for the Green Giant brand.”

He said the company has been in discussions about which brands selected retailers might choose to carry.

“Some retailers who are on the Green Giant program with other products might want to carry the asparagus, and then there are other customers who are perfectly happy to stick with the Gourmet brand,” he said.

Calls to The Sholl Group II were not returned, but in a news release Darci Eckermann, senior vice president, said, “Our partnership with Gourmet Trading Co. is a natural fit, and we are very excited about partnering with Gourmet Trading, a company that shares our commitment to quality and customer service.”