Asparagus demand strong

06/10/2014 04:30:00 PM
Andy Nelson

HART, Mich. — Michigan asparagus grower-shippers look forward to another year of strong demand.

Hudsonville-based Miedema Produce Inc. began shipping light volumes of asparagus the week of May 5, with good volumes following by late the week of May 12, said Todd Miedema, marketing director and principal.

“This spring is just not warming up,” Miedema said in mid-May. “But the crop looks good, the quality’s good.”

The late start doesn’t worry Miedema from a marketing standpoint. Some shippers, he said, try to take advantage of Mother’s Day pull, but since that’s a rare occurrence, missing the holiday hadn’t overly concerned Miedema.

“In Michigan we never get volume until after Mother’s Day.”

Hudsonville-based Superior Sales began shipping in volume about May 19 and expected to have product through the end of June, said Todd DeWaard, the company’s sales manager.

“Everything’s been excellent,” he said. “Heat drives the quality down, and we haven’t had too much heat.”

DeWaard also expects another year of brisk movement.

“The past few years have been really good,” he said. “The hard thing is getting switched over. Once the transition is over we anticipate demand to be good.”

While asparagus acreage has stabilized in recent years, demand has increased, DeWaard said.

Close to half of all Michigan asparagus shipped in 2014 could be marketed fresh.

That’s a big turnaround from just a few years ago, when close to 90% of the state’s asparagus went to processing markets.

John Bakker, executive director of the DeWitt-based Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board, said that in 2013, about 40% was marketed fresh, up from 30% the year before.

Bakker said fresh’s share of the pie could be even higher this year.

About 80% of the asparagus shipped by Hart, Mich.-based Todd Greiner Farms this year will likely go to fresh markets, said Todd Greiner, the company’s chief executive officer.

Tim Spiech, co-owner of Paw Paw, Mich.-based Spiech Farms, said that due to surging demand, buyers have been willing to pay more for fresh asparagus in recent years.

Locally-grown demand has been a big reason why, he said.

About 80% of Michigan asparagus ships from Hart.



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