Importers look forward to strong demand - The Packer

Importers look forward to strong demand

07/26/2013 10:38:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Importers expect strong demand for Peruvian asparagus after a slight midsummer swoon.

The summer doldrums had struck the asparagus market by early July, said Jeff Friedman, president and sales manager of CarbAmericas, Pompano Beach, Fla., which was sourcing from Peru and Mexico in early summer.

“Right now the market seems to be real flat,” he said. “There’s not a lot of demand.”

Mother Nature was playing a big part in it, Friedman said.

“There’s a heat wave across the country — no one’s really interested in asparagus.”

Markets will likely stay in the low 20s for the bulk of July, Friedman said. Then, as Mexico exits the deal, prices will likely spike toward the end of the month, he said.

That spike will likely last seven to 12 days before prices gradually come down as Peruvian volumes increase seasonally.

In recent years many Peruvian asparagus fields have been turned into something else, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Pompano Beach-based grower-shipper Southern Specialties.

“People have been reading a lot about grapes, citrus and other products from Peru,” he said.

However, Eagle said he is convinced that strong U.S. demand for Peruvian asparagus will convince growers to plant more asparagus again in the near future.

“I think the markets are pretty healthy,” he said.

Southern will import from Peru and Mexico in the coming months, with Peruvian product making up about half of the company’s total.

“There’s some overlap, but there’s a place for both countries.”

Demand for Peruvian produce wasn’t bad in early July, but it would likely be in the “good” category before too long, said Carlos Solf, Southern’s procurement director.

“Demand has been steady,” Solf said. “Retailers just finished a few weeks ago with local production, and they’re changing to Peru product. Demand should increase as Peru will become a main production area, along with some parts of Mexico.”

Peru and Mexico should have no trouble co-existing as the deal progresses, Solf said.

“At this moment Mexico and Peru complement well,” he said. “When you have local production, Peru can’t compete because buyers don’t look for value, but to support the local areas. We’re not sure if retailers are losing potential increased revenue by not carrying Peru also.”

Increased volumes of asparagus from Mexico in the second half of the year will likely help marketers of Peruvian product promote more aggressively, said Rick Durkin, director of business development for Miami-based Crystal Valley Foods.

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