After a shaky February in which Mexico struggled with yield losses because of cold weather and a late start, the asparagus industry is bouncing back with improved growing conditions and the start of domestic deals. Volume is expected to be strong through spring into summer.
By mid-March, suppliers said they expect not only promotable volume after Easter but also excellent quality and big sizes out of California, with Washington set to begin in April, followed by Michigan and Canada in smaller amounts in May.
Importers of Mexican and Peruvian asparagus hoped for stronger markets this spring as product continues in steady volume from Peru, which dominates the market at the end of the domestic deals, June through January. Mexican supplies dwindle into April, although grower-shippers hoped to push their harvest a little longer to recoup losses.
“The cold weather (in Mexico) affected the crowns, and production is substantially lower than in past years, but there will still be enough volume to offer promotions,” said Carlos Solf, director of procurement at Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Southern Specialties, Inc. “We will have more volume (out of Mexico) after Easter, bolstered by supplies from Peru and California.”
“There will be volumes to promote this spring,” echoed Rick Durkin, director of business development for Crystal Valley Foods, Miami. He expects supplies in April and May from Peru, and by June through August he said they will bring good volumes from both Peru and Mexico.
Early prices higher
The unpredictable weather in Mexican growing areas caused higher prices early in the year, said Jeff Friedman, president and sales manager of CarbAmericas, Pompano Beach, Fla.
“Last year (in February) we saw $20 for a 28-pound box, and this year the market has been very good and probably will be in the high $30s after Easter.”
A turnaround in weather in March buoyed the Mexican crop, and suppliers are optimistic.
Walter Yager, chief executive officer of Doral, Fla.-based Alpine Fresh, said his company expects to pull high volume from Peru in mid-April and then start back in central Mexico by late May.
“Quality has been outstanding in Mexico, with ideal growing temps right now,” he said March 18. “Additionally, Peru’s quality also looks good — (with) better packout than last year’s.”
Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association coordinator Priscilla Lleras said she expects mid-April Peruvian imports for 2013 to be similar to April 2012’s output of about 7 million pounds.