Demand for organic asparagus continues to grow, said Earl Herrick, owner of Earl’s Organic Produce in the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market.
“Though it’s no longer the herald of spring it used to be, that asparagus-artichoke-strawberry thing is still going on,” said Herrick, who sells asparagus in central to Northern California and into Oregon and Minnesota.
“When we have a California grower and a Mexican grower under production, I’ll be selling the domestic stuff, even if it’s a 20% to 30% premium,” he said.
Compared to last year, he said, the California crop is off to a great start.
Herrick expects his deal with a grower in the Salinas area to last through July or until the first heat wave, and he plans to bring in organic Washington asparagus in April and May.
He said the organic market is growing because growers are expanding their mix as they become more established, and because so many people are still being introduced to it.
“I’m still amazed when people say they’re just getting in to it because we’ve been doing this since the mid-’80s,” he said.
His biggest challenge for the year, he said, is to communicate better with customers and consumers, mainly through social media.
“We are the professionals,” he said, “and we need to tell customers when the peak will be, when’s the best promotional time and how long the season will last.”
“When we give direction, we’re doing our job better,” he said.