Demand could be down but movement should be good

07/17/2014 01:39:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Demand for Peruvian asparagus may not be quite as strong as a year ago, but importers and officials still look forward to brisk movement.

Gourmet Trading Co., Redondo Beach, Calif., expects 2014 industry-wide volumes to be slightly down from 2013 — closer to 2012 volumes, said Chloe Varennes, marketing manager.

“Last year in 2013 we actually saw an increase in fresh production of about 6%,” Varennes said. “However, we expect this increase to adjust down for 2014.”

Crowley FreshThe 2013 boost, Varennes, was due less to a production increase and more to an increase in demand for fresh product relative to frozen and processing demand.

That’s unlikely to repeat in 2014.

“We should see a slight decrease of about 4% or 5% in total fresh asparagus production,” Varennes said.

Despite the expected industry decline, Gourmet Trading is looking forward to another season of strong demand for its Peruvian asparagus, Varennes said.

“From 2012 to 2013 our Peru program grew by 15%, and we want this trend to continue.”

A 15% growth rate may not be possible again in 2014, but the company does plan to keep expanding its Peruvian program, Varennes said.

Priscilla Lleras, coordinator for the Miami-based Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association, expects brisk movement during the 2014 Peruvian season, which should peak from August through January 2015.

“Demand for Peruvian asparagus is steady,” Lleras said. “Retailers and foodservice are consistently looking for quality, and Peru definitely brings quality to the retailers’ shelves — and ultimately to the consumers’ tables.”

One key to keeping demand strong for Peruvian asparagus, Lleras said, is for importers to work closely with buyers on displaying a wide array of product — while at the same time ensuring that only the best product ships.

“Variety — green, white and purple — and consistency of quality within the Peruvian brand offer the retailer, foodservice (purveyor) and their customers with a number of options.”

Eduardo Campos, director of Miami-based Crowley Fresh, a division of Crowley Maritime Corp. that provides third-party cold storage and perishable logistics to importers, also expected another season of brisk movement of Peruvian asparagus, which should begin arriving in peak volume in August.

“Prices have been solid through the summer, and hopefully that demand will continue.”

Nine million cases of Peruvian asparagus will likely ship this year, comparable to last year, Campos said.


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